NOVEMBER 2018 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com consumers. A lot of what we do in Alltech is in regard to that communication and showing the market that there is a different way of doing things.” Getting the science message across Mark Lyons is fully aware of the ongoing public scepticism around science and its appliance: “Sometimes that scepticism has been self-inflicted. At times, science-based businesses have not communicated effectively with the public and consumers. There is a need to demystify science and communicate the benefits of scientific advancements. We have to think of communicating through different conduits, through people whom the public trust, for instance. Alltech would like to be involved in that in order to bridge the gap between what some consumers believe and what is factual.” The Irish theme In response to whether Ireland is doing enough in terms of Government support, the role of Bord Bia and other State bodies, the new head of Alltech had this to say: “A huge amount is being done and I saw that on the ground in China where I had spent six years before taking over the CEO role in Alltech. There has been a great degree of cooperation involving Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, trade missions, embassies and government ministers. Alltech is proactive in this regard. Anywhere in the world where an Irish company comes to do business, our people are always available to help them make connections. Because we are a smaller country this networking is more important.” China now Mark Lyons is a polylinguist, speaking a range of languages including a working knowledge of Mandarin. His experience of working and living in China gives him a rare insight into doing business in the country: “We have structured the Alltech operations in China in such a way that we can work effectively in what is a unique business structure and culture. We know that China is not like any other market. There is no line between government and private sector there. Government influence is broad so we have to realise what the Chinese Government's objectives are and align ours in accordance with that fact. Our 'China Now' programme is a reflection of the realities of doing business in China. ” Connecting the Alltech parts Over the past few years Alltech has made several acquisitions and managing their integration is a focus for Dr Lyons: “We have been working hard on making connections and synergies between our various acquisitions and that has helped to drive sales and profits. Many are in the animal feed sector, which means we have to deal with massive fluctuations in commodity prices. So all of the work around our supply chain and having a global presence has been beneficial to us in improving our acquired businesses. That helps to pay down debt and create the next business opportunity. With our scale and diverse geographical reach the acquisition growth route will continue to deliver benefits. At the same time there are Cover story huge opportunities for collaborations with like-minded companies to mutual benefit. The end goal of facilitating the uptake of Alltech technologies would still be achieved in that way.” There are areas of Alltech where I am more passionate than my father was and vice versa. We are in a position to influence the acceptance of technologies and to drive them forward, especially in the ag-tech areas and make those more accessible to a bigger part of agriculture. Investing in change technology It is clear that Mark Lyons will be very much his own man: “There are areas of Alltech where I am more passionate than my father was and vice versa. We are in a position to influence the acceptance of technologies and to drive them forward, especially in the ag-tech areas and make those more accessible to a bigger part of agriculture. Equally I believe we have an opportunity to mitigate some of the environmental challenges that we face. Ireland is a bit behind in that regard. We need to think about things in a different way, making sure we are not just glossing over the issues but rather investing in change technology. In turn those remedial actions can be replicated around the world. The assumption that a pasture based production system is an adequate response needs to be measured and improved on. In Alltech we are looking at that in a number of different ways. Measurement of the KPIs (Key Production Indexes) is important, because we can then deliver technologies to reduce the environmental impact of livestock production. Alltech have been working in this area for over a decade now.” Reflecting on his father's approach, Mark added: “As a brewer he considered a cow's rumen to be a natural fermentation vat, so he knew that by changing different aspects of the fermentation process you could reduce the gases coming out of that process. Our technologies are all around modifying the rumen and ensuring that it is operating as efficiently as possible. That may come from more precise feeding systems and utilising different technologies. Our Keenan technology is a big part of that, not just in measuring accurately through InTouch but also through getting the right nutrients into the animal and at the critical times. Feeding animals at certain times can completely change the outputs from those animals.” 15