Treasuring the heritage of an industry icon

Last month, Koen Schwarzer retired after 9 years at Perstorp. With his unique and extensive experience, Koen has truly made a mark not only on our Animal Nutrition Business Area, but on the entire animal nutrition industry in ways that most can only dream of.

Koen SchwarzerA chemist’s impact on innovations in feed additives
Koen Schwarzer started his career in the polymer industry, putting his degree in chemistry to good use. “In the 80s I made the move to the animal nutrition industry and never looked back” according to the man himself. “Kemin asked me to head up their laboratory in Europe, where I was responsible from everything from quality control to product development in areas such as mold inhibition, oxidation prevention and feed absorption improvement”. After a decade as the Technical Director at Nutriad, Koen found his way to Perstorp in 2011 where he continued to spearhead innovations and technical developments and today works with 80 colleagues at the Innovations department. “I have always loved the combination of creativity and real world applications in this field. It is especially rewarding to see your solutions being used successfully in practice”.

A career littered with highlights
Those who are in the know about feed additives are undoubtedly familiar with some of Koen’s work. From formulating new antioxidants and enzymes to flavors he has done and seen it all. When asked to name a few particularly interesting highlights, he names three: “I developed the first non-corrosive mold inhibitor decades ago. That project even landed me a research award. It is very satisfying to see this products and all the newer ones copying the concept still doing well today”.

Then switching to his time at Perstorp, he continues “the amount of innovations with Perstorp compared to the number of years I have been here was very high. The second innovation that I am particularly proud of are the tributyrins (glycerol esters of butyric acid). It is the latest generation of butyric acid solutions for gut health, and has been received as such by the market. Seeing this market acceptance was most rewarding”.

Butyric acid wasn’t the only ester Koen helped to develop for application in animal nutrition. He played a part in developing the esters of propionic acid for long lasting grain preservation and lead the development of ProPhorce™ Valerins. “Esters of valeric acid are the latest big development I have worked on. It is frontier territory to work on an organic acid molecule that has never been used in animal nutrition before, and to figure out what it does and how it works” he states.

Looking ahead
When asked about what he thinks the future has in store for the animal nutrition industry, Koen replies “The consolidation of companies will continue as it has since the 80s. Companies that will be successful are the ones that best adapt to the new megatrends such as sustainability and digitalization. But we shouldn’t forget that healthy animals remain at the heart of our business, and that will always be a challenge. Look at ASF. Microbes can adapt quickly and so should we”.

From a more philosophical perspective Koen recommends us all to get out of our comfort zones: “it is important to be open to new things, communicate with each other and exchange perspectives. Not just within our companies but with other companies as well. As an industry we’ll need to work together to successfully feed a growing world population”.

So what’s in store next for Koen? “Go out and explore the finest nature Europe has to offer in our RV” he states.

Koen will be greatly missed at Perstorp, the whole team wishes him all the best for his future retirement and we will do our utmost to treasure the heritage from such an industry icon. To Koen: we are forever grateful for your hard work, innovative thinking and for all the knowledge you have shared with us during the years. We wish you all the best!

Goodbye Koen