INTERVIEW: Knowledge about Value of Valeric Acid in Animal Nutrition Growing - Perstorp

Source: Feedinfo News Service

3 July 2017 - In May 2017, Perstorp officially introduced ProPhorce™ Valerins - glycerol esters of valeric acid to be used in feed to promote animal performance and reduce the negative impact of Clostridium Perfringens. Prior to this launch, valeric acid had never before been tested for commercial production. The introduction of ProPhorce™ Valerins is therefore the first new organic acid to be introduced in decades.

The commercial introduction of ProPhorce™ Valerins has already started in selected markets.

“The market is eager to hear and learn about the first new organic acid to be introduced in decades, and how it can help to further improve animal gut health and performance. There is still much to be learned about gut health or even the effects that organic acids and especially valeric acid can have on it”, Geert Wielsma, Portfolio Director Gut Health for Perstorp’s business unit Feed & Food, said when Perstorp introduced the product at the European Symposium of Poultry Nutrition (ESPN) on May 8 for the first time.

“It is rare to see really new molecules introduced in our industry and people are curious to find out what potential they have to improve animal performance. We have started the first cooperations with customers to use the Valerins in their feed operations”, Wielsma told Feedinfo News Service in a recent interview. “The first reactions are very positive”.

“Together with our customers, we are now growing our knowledge about the value of the Valerins. We are focusing on the European broiler market at the moment and plan to later on expand to the rest of the world. Our production platform is flexible and easy to adjust depending on the market demand. Valeric acid is used in many other industries so the capacity is based on much more than the feed potential alone”, he added.

Perstorp is a producer of both the main raw materials - glycerol and valeric acid - used in the manufacture of Valerins. Moreover, Perstorp is one of only two producers of valeric acid in the world.

“Naturally it has an advantage to produce the components of a product yourself when you market a product, it makes you less dependent on others in the supply chain”, Wielsma commented. “The benefit for our customers is that we don’t just offer a reliable supply, but also our Swedish quality standards. This is becoming more important to our industry and we are very proud to offer these solutions knowing they are produced in a safe and sustainable way”.

Asked what the reasons are why valeric acid had not been used by the animal nutrition industry until now, Perstorp’s Portfolio Director for Gut Health pointed out that organic acids have proven to be one of the most efficient ways to improve animal performance, especially in markets where antibiotic growth promoters have been banned. However, for a long time the focus had been on the antibacterial properties of the acids, but this is changing as more is learned about the effects organic acids have in the gastro intestinal tract (GIT).

Butyric acid has been most in the spotlight since it is known to play an important role in a healthy functioning gastro intestinal tract. Valeric acid is a lesser known acid that plays a role in the tract; it is naturally present in the intestine but at much lower concentrations than butyric acid. Valeric acid has some characteristics that are quite similar to butyric acid. It has for instance a stimulating effect on enterocyte development. Valeric acid also has strong antibacterial effects like other organic acids and from literature we know it interacts with the regulation of the immune system.

“Perstorp has been developing new feed additive solutions for decades and using the knowledge from the chemical backbone of the company to find new solutions for the feed industry. Valeric acid is one of the molecules that are produced by Perstorp, and our curiosity to find out what the role of this acid is in the GIT led to our latest discoveries”, Wielsma said. “Perstorp also has the know-how to work with difficult to handle molecules. Valeric acid has a very bad smell, so knowing how to turn them into non-smelling solutions is essential to be able to use them in feed. Perstorp has this experience from our work with butyric acid”.

In 2010, Perstorp took the decision to invest in a broad research program to improve the understanding of modes of action of SCFAs (short chain fatty acids) and their derivatives (e.g. glycerol esters of organic acids) and how these drive gut health and performance. Perstorp started the research on valeric acid five years ago, collaborating with Ghent University in Belgium and Lund University in Sweden to learn more about organic acids and their glycerol esters in poultry. The research conducted included an extensive screening of all the SCFAs available and one of the new molecules incorporated in the project was Valerins.

“What we learned here is that in the Necrotic Enteritis (NE) challenge models, Valerins came out to have the strongest effect. At the same time a lot of work was done at our own R&D labs in Sweden to find the best ways to produce these molecules, since the whole production process had to be designed and optimized. Later on we started testing the Valerins at other research places to confirm the results under different circumstances like the Southern Poultry Research Group in Athens, Georgia (USA)”, Wielsma explained.

Perstorp’s Portfolio Director for Gut Health added: “For us the most surprising finding in the project was the direct effect of valeric acid on the production of NetB toxins. NetB toxins are produced by Clostridium Perfringens and generally seen as the major reason for the development of lesions in the intestines of birds. The trials in Ghent showed that the toxin levels were reduced by valeric acid and Valerins.

Wielsma acknowledges, however, that there is much to be learned about the effects valeric acid can have on gut health. But for him there is also still much to be learned about gut health in general.

“The industry is using dozens of different additives and with most of them there are still many questions about their exact mode-of-action. The same is true for valeric acid and we are devoted to learn more about the mechanisms of the molecule inside the GIT. The focus is now to learn more about the effects in other situations than NE and to fine-tune dose-response effects under different circumstances”, he said.

As the use of valeric acid in the feed industry continues to evolve, it can be expected that Valerins will become an important component in the overall Perstorp Feed portfolio.

“Perstorp has a very strong position in organic acids for many different applications in feed. The fastest growth the last few years has been with ProPhorce™ SR (glycerol esters of butyric acid) since the effect of butyric acid in the intestine has proven to improve animal performance for our customers worldwide. With ProPhorce™ Valerins we will now add a new product to the market in the ProPhorce™ family that has the potential to add additional value to customers that are dealing with specific challenges like necrotic enteritis”, Wielsma commented.

‘We foresee an important role of these new developments for our portfolio going forward and more importantly an important solution for customers that are looking for new strategies to improve animal performance without the use of antibiotics”, he went on to say.