20 minutes with Roy Power, Arvum Group

20 minutes with Roy Power, Arvum Group

What does Specialist Nutrition do?

What does Specialist Nutrition do?

Specialist Nutrition is an Irish company that handles byproducts, primarily from the drinks industry. We manage the spent grain byproducts from the brewing and distilling industry in Ireland and sell these high-protein byproducts as a moist feed direct to Irish farmers. For example, we handle the distiller’s grains from Irish Distillers in Cork and Bushmills in Northern Ireland.

You’ve just announced an expansion into the US market. What will that mean for the business?

We’ve just signed a five-year deal valued at €135m to supply byproducts from a US ethanol plant in upstate New York as animal feed to local dairy farmers. This is our first investment outside of Ireland and we’ve just opened up a small office in Syracuse, New York.

How will the contract work?

This is very much a partnership between Specialist Nutrition, the company that owns the ethanol plant, Attis Industries, and the local farmers. We will buy the spent grain byproduct from the ethanol plant and we will sell it direct to farmers. Shipping the byproduct direct from the ethanol factory to farms also ensures the supply chain is fully traceable. We will manage the logistics and appoint hauliers to deliver the byproduct to farms. By keeping the infrastructure of this process to a minimum cost, we can offer real value to US dairy farmers with this feed.

What are the benefits of this partnership?

This is very much a win-win for the farmer and the ethanol facility. The farmer is getting another source of feed that is locally produced, traceable and value for money. Moist feed products also tend to increase feed intakes and improve animal health. And for the ethanol plant, selling the wet byproduct to us helps it significantly reduce its carbon footprint. Up to now, Attis has been drying the wet byproduct into dried distiller’s grains, which is a huge energy-intensive process. Selling the wet product to us allows the company to reduce its carbon footprint and turn off its grain dryers.

What sort of feed volumes are involved in this deal?

This deal will see us source 500,000t of byproduct every year from Attis Industries corn (maize) ethanol plant, which is in the small town of Fulton in upstate New York. This might seem like a huge volume in Irish terms but it’s just a drop in the ocean when you think that there’s 38m tonnes of dried distiller’s grains produced every year in the US. The US exports about 33% of its dried distiller’s grains with a lot of this shipped to Ireland.

When will you start delivering this feed to US farmers?

We’re already delivering product direct to farms since the end of November. The corn (maize) silage harvest in the US has been very poor this year with bad yields as a result of bad weather. So, US farmers were actively looking for forage extenders this year. That allowed us to get up and running very quickly and it is being well received by farmers. We’ve started with small volumes but we’ll build the business up to 500,000t annually over the next two years. We’ll build the tonnages as we go.