07.01.16- Asia is the new focus for a leading supplier of micro feeds in the Americas
US based Zeigler Feeds strives to know the needs of its Asian customers better as it continues to grow in the region.
In 2015, Zeigler Bros., Inc. celebrated 80 years in the production of livestock and aqua feeds. Zeigler was founded by brothers Leroy and Ty Zeigler as a local producer of livestock and poultry feeds in Pennsylvania, USA. In 1955, it began production of aqua feeds and 12 years later, Dr. Thomas R Zeigler (son of Leroy) assumed leadership as president and changed the strategic direction from commodity feeds to focus on research and development of specialty animal and aquatic diets.
Today, as Zeigler embarks on its third generation of family leadership, the company continues to develop new and innovative technologies for specialty markets. It is active in four areas: aquaculture, specialty pet, health and research, and feed mill franchising. For 30 years the franchise program has offered turnkey solutions for local production of aqua and specialty feeds in conjunction with R&D collaboration to provide advancements and technologies needed to meet ever-changing market conditions. The company has two manufacturing facilities located in South-Central Pennsylvania, two franchises located in Mexico and a third franchise in Ecuador.
In 1983, Zeigler was first to develop the technology for water stable shrimp feeds. Five years later it helped create and commercialize Stay C, a stable form of Vitamin C. In the 1990s Zeigler went on to introduce shrimp hatchery diets, including microencapsulated larval feeds and bio-secure maturation diets thus marketing a complete line of feed for shrimp hatchery and farming. As part of its ongoing mission to minimize biosecurity risks and inconsistencies associated with live feeds, the company developed EZ Artemia, and in 2009, it first achieved 100% Artemia replacement with this product. In 2016, the Zeigler Research Centre was set up to provide a platform to evaluate feed performance (see Aqua Culture Asia Pacific, issue March/April 2016).
Advancing into Asia
Asia is the company’s new focus with a concentration on the shrimp hatchery and franchise markets. Today, Zeigler hatchery products are present in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Malaysia and the Middle East. It has also just begun entering the market in Thailand and China.
During the World Aquaculture 2016 trade show in Las Vegas in February, Dr. Thomas R Zeigler, Senior Technical Advisor, past President and Chairman of Zeigler gave an exclusive interview on how he is bringing Zeigler’s aqua feeds to Asia and the strategy and challenges for this new business. Chris Stock, Sales Manager – Eastern Hemisphere, joined him.
AAP: What are Zeigler’s strengths which helped the company start up and lead in Central America?
TZ: Basically, it was a case of, “We had the feed, and there was a need.” Our strengths came with the fact that we were there first when the shrimp farming industry in Latin America needed commercial feeds. Also, our products worked for them. Being in the US, we were very close to the farms. We also speak the language. It also helped that in those days, farm managers in large farms such as Belize Aquaculture were Americans! As a young man, I was travelling there often and developed many personal contacts. In my visits to the farms, I asked what they needed and made recommendations. With this feedback, we made improvements in products, and all the time we tried to provide the best value.
In the 1980s and 1990s, in Central America, feed was relatively primitive because there was no structured feed ingredient industry that could produce feed ingredients of aqua feed quality. Whereas, in the US, we already had had suppliers of such raw materials. Therefore, our products performed well and, because of this, we established our brand reputation.
AAP: What will Zeigler bring to the shrimp farming industry in Asia?
TZ: We are approaching Asia in the same way. We want to understand the markets and walk in their shoes and work to expose industry to methods and products which are effective. We are very serious about the Asian market. We feel that the technology from the US and from Zeigler can make a significant difference in the region. Innovative products that bring value is key.
Our core strength has always been in the hatchery and raceway segment of the industry. We have niche products for this segment; precision milled and specialized ingredients, which use more sophisticated technologies. These are the products which we will be bringing to Asia; products which we can afford the freight costs all the way from the US and which we know will be cost effective. Our business is a people business. We focus on people.
AAP: What are the current and anticipated challenges for Zeigler in Asia?
TZ: Unfortunately, our biggest challenge is in the registration of products. Many of the rules, we feel, are not logical. Although Zeigler itself can overcome these, personally I feel that the local industry is suffering because they do not have access to products they need to make improvements to their farming practices. This is just unfortunate. Countries in Asia need to find ways to cooperate for the benefit of each other. We may have to wait for trade agreements, but, on the other hand, many trade agreements are mega trade agreements and a small company like Zeigler will just have focus on what we can do best.
“This means that we really need to learn how to ‘walk in their shoes’ to know what the industry in Asia really needs. I believe that success is always for good people doing things together. Our business is a relationship business. Being able to put a product in place promptly is important. - Tom Zeigler
Then there is the difference in culture and production methodology between Asia and the Americas. For example, operators in Asia still love to feed live Artemia and feed four or more times a day. It works but we know from the work over here that we can totally replace live Artemia in shrimp hatchery production. Our EZ Artemia product is semi buoyant and goes to the bottom in a couple of hours and thus the hatchery operator will need to feed more frequently to really get benefit out of it. This is an example of cultural differences we need to study. This means that we really need to learn how to ‘walk in their shoes’ to know what the industry in Asia really needs. I believe that success is always for good people doing things together. Our business is a relationship business. Being able to put a product in place promptly is important.
AAP: What will be Zeigler’s strategy in Asia?
CS: The marketing strategy is to work through distributors and develop strategic relationships. In Central America, our success was through building trust and we are taking the same approach in Asia, creating trust by supporting distributors and clients directly. This takes time and we know we cannot capture the market’s trust overnight.
AAP: What do you think will be your advantages compared with the existing feed players in Asia?
TZ: Our strength is with products manufactured in the US which are of high quality. We entered the Central American market with a strong reputation and performance track record. We do not measure competition in terms of price but in terms of being able to add greater value. The customer has to be profitable first. We consider ourselves a technologically sound company. What we do is to bring innovation and customization. If we have to make a special order, we will do this. Our advantage in being a small business is that we are more flexible in comparison to large companies, which have many levels of decision makers. This has always been one of our competitive edges.
CS: We challenge the status quo too when we see opportunities and take things we learn in other markets and transfer the knowledge and production practices to other places. We will also challenge practices when we know that there are opportunities to help clients improve their business.
AAP: Following the entry into Asia, what are your expectations and targets in this market?
CS: First, we have to build the reputation of our company as a leader in terms of quality products and innovation in Asia. We are trying to show ourselves as delivering value, not just with products, but also with concepts and practices. We are not in Asia to promote products only, but to see our clients succeed. Relative to many of our competitors, we are a small company; thus, we need to be sharper in our approach to visiting clients and markets. We continuously face the challenge of a price-oriented market. We will continue to deliver products designed for the best returns and convey the concept that feed is an investment.
AAP: In five years, where would you like to position Zeigler in the Asian region?
TZ: We want to be recognized as one of the primary producers of quality feed products. We want to continue to innovate for this market. I hope that in the near future, we will have one or two production sites in Asia. This is the investment we are making for markets in Asia. Absolutely, we are in Asia for the long term.
AQUA Culture Asia Pacific Magazine - July/August 2016 Voume 12 #4