Established in 2010, Caprienzymes is a forward-looking Indian biotechnology company with a vision of a more ecological future spurred by converting traditional bio processes to more modern techniques. Initially focused on the leather industry, Caprienzymes later entered the animal nutrition industry. Today, the company specializes in probiotics and enzymes with applications in detergents, leather and textiles, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and personal care, as well as in poultry, livestock and aqua nutrition, Caprienzymes is a subsidiary of Caprittarius, a leading Indian leather technology exporter with more than 35 years of experience.

Despite its small size (turnover of about USD 500,000 per annum, and 15 employees), Caprienzymes’ enzyme factory in Ranipet, Tamil Nadu state (a biotechnology and tannery hub), offers nearly 45 enzyme ingredients and has a production capacity of around 400 tons per month in powder form and 100 tons per month in liquid form using its mixers, blenders and demineralized water.

Feed enzymes and how the Indian feed additive markets are evolving will be focuses of the upcoming “Feed Additives Asia 2018” conference, taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, on 16-18 May. Ahead of the event, Caprienzymes’ CEO, Mr. V.S. Ravindran provided Feedinfo News Service with his view of the Indian feed enzyme sector and how his company differentiates itself.

[Feedinfo News Service] Mr. Ravindran, what are the challenges of the Indian feed enzyme sector? What is your view of the competitive feed enzyme market environment in India today?

[V.S. Ravindran] Restricting the use of antibiotics as growth promoters is a global trend. In India, we are also creating awareness about antibiotic resistance through the social media. We are constantly exploring alternative to antibiotics, using our traditional herbs and enzymatic ingredients.

What we also see is that each enzyme has its own value and benefits, based on the type of strain from which it is obtained. Fungal enzymes are much utilized in the Indian feed industry. For example, phytase obtained from Aspergillus niger is used to reduce the phosphate content in the poultry excretion. Likewise each strain will have particular functions. It seems to be a challenging factor for the poultry industry.

India’s poultry population is very high. Generally, people prefer chicken meat since the price is more economical than other meats. Egg consumption is high as well. Such factors create opportunities to develop more feed enzymes and feed additives, generally. Also, many other industrial products are subjected to Goods and Services Tax (GST), whereas animal nutrition industries are free of these taxes.

It is also interesting to note that strict regulations and certifications as well as norms from the US and Europe pose a big challenge. The Indian government is aware of these factors assisting small and medium-sized enterprises financially through institutions like DBT and DST, banking institutions and government subsidies for plants and machineries.

Looking at the competition, most enzyme manufacturing companies are headquartered in foreign countries. Though natural plant-based enzymes are available in India, we generally opt for microbe-based enzymes which are available in European countries. Even European-based companies in China also try to produce better enzymes and have good market potential in India. Actually, Indian producers are very few and mainly work on protease.

Moreover, Indian companies have low marketing capabilities for enzymes. Most of the foreign companies have wide networks for distribution throughout India. They generally take man-power from India and train employees technically; technical expertise is what domestic producers lack the most. European countries that penetrate into India seem to be successful by their way of technical collaboration for product development as well as marketing. Meanwhile Chinese companies do not penetrate much but are competitively priced compared with Europe.

[Feedinfo News Service] What would you say differentiates Caprienzymes’ production technologies to those of other Indian feed enzyme producers?

[V.S. Ravindran] We mostly import strains from Europe and certain plant-based products. We manufacture product in our own factory at pilot scale level but for large scale we have work with fermentation units in Indian biotech companies. We preserve all the strains in refrigerated rooms so we can maintain them at constant temperature and we formulate them based on the needs of customers. We also have an efficient formulating unit where we can formulate enzymes in bulk quantities. Ingredients we choose are 100% bio-degradable, aquatic friendly, and natural. Our products are free of chemical ingredients.

We have an infrastructure of 15,000 sqft which is already built-up and around 100,000 sqft for expansion. Our 2.5 acre site also has R&D and QC lab facilities, with refrigerated rooms and warehouses. It is in a “pollution-free” zone allotted by the government of Tamil Nadu. Our production capacity is backed up with power and water facilities, and for all expansions or additional machinery we have enough power back-up on the premises.

The Caprienzymes brand is promoted through several CSR platforms, bio-conferences and fairs, guest lectures, and presentations made in schools and colleges for the younger generation. We have been constantly promoting our brand for almost 7-8 years and we have partnerships with many reputed colleges and educational institutions, such as VIT (Vellore Institute of Technology), one of the biggest institutes in Asia.

[Feedinfo News Service] Caprienzymes also specialises in the manufacture of enzymes for use in aqua species. Can you give us an overview of this particular market segment?

[V.S. Ravindran] Aquaculture is a fastest growing sector with 6% annual growth. In 2016-2017, farmed fish production in India amounted to approximately 11.4 MMT. Globally India is in second position after China.

Our probiotics and enzymes help strengthen the pond environment and we also work with companies that develop sensors, which help us identify sudden outbreaks of fish diseases, so that we can treat them in the early stages. Most shrimp farms are subjected to over 20 viral diseases, including White Spot Syndrome which infects all life stages and causes large scale mortality. We continue to look for solutions to completely eradicate this syndrome. Our probiotic and enzymatic products also help remove organic load at the bottom of ponds and reduce pond pollution. We make probiotics in tablet form for pond culture development; this saves the wastage of product when spraying.

In India, many companies specialise in making probiotics and export to Indonesia, Thailand, the Far East and the Middle East. For aquatic species we work in small scale with probiotics. To expand our work in a large scale we continue to seek investors.

[Feedinfo News Service] What are the company’s strategic objectives moving forward?

[V.S. Ravindran] We have obtained the PVT. LTD. status and we are open for joint venture proposals considering the potential we see in the animal nutrition markets.

In human nutrition, our recent focus has been in the field of new plant-based enzymes, herbal extracts, herbal medicinal plant extracts and nutraceuticals. We have an idea for manufacturing tablets and capsules for nutraceuticals. Also we focus on therapeutic enzymes. In this area we are seeking the right channel partners and investors.

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We are running our first event in Asia, in Bangkok, May 2018. More information can be found here.