Mr. Arnold de Maere and Mr. Emmanuel Peulens
The Minafin Group is a privately-owned Belgian industrial company that specializes in fine chemistry for the life sciences and high-tech Industries. This March, it announced the launch of Minagro, a new global business unit dedicated to developing and marketing greener and safer ingredients for the crop care industry.
In an interview with AgroPages, Emmanuel Peulens (Managing Director, Green Chemical Users of Minafin) and Arnold de Maere (Sales and Marketing Manager at Minagro) explained how the Minafin Group will serve its customers in the crop protection market through leveraging its current expertise, as well as Minagro’s future plan.
Could you please give us a short introduction to the Minafin Group?
Created in 2004, the Minafin Group specializes in fine chemistry for the life science industries. Activities include industrial subcontracting as well as developing and manufacturing proprietary products with high value for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and high-tech industries. In 2018, the Group employed over 860 staff and had a turnover of around EUR 200 million. The Group is also present in other markets such as personal care, specialty chemicals and polymers. Production facilities are located in France, Belgium, Germany and the United States.
Minafin Group launched Minagro business unit in March, could you introduce us the background of this unit? As a new player in the agribusiness industry, what is the most prominent advantage of Minagro?
By launching Minagro, the Minafin Group wanted to leverage its in-house expertise by developing and manufacturing new greener products for the agricultural sector. This additional diversification allows us to enlarge our market offering by providing the crop care industry with safer ingredients and sustainable solutions which are in increasing demand.
What is the development situation of the biological market in Europe and Belgium?
The crop care industry is increasingly looking for safer and naturally-sourced ingredients and co-formulants. This trend is mainly driven by tighter regulations on traditional chemical ingredients in addition to growing end-user demand for sustainable solutions.
According to the news release, you said Minagro will be the first business entity in Europe to offer, under one roof, a full-range of bio-based ingredients for the agricultural industry. Could you tell us more about your strategic idea in biological business?
We consider our offer is quite unique for this market; it is in line with customer expectations for an overall better respect of the environment. We are supporting this growing market trend with the development of a co-formulants range based mainly on renewable raw materials. We also plan to offer a line of active substances based on indepth research carried out on carefully selected plant extracts. Our previous experience and proven results in other markets, such as cosmetics, will enable us to achieve this. With this portfolio, we believe we can offer customers sustainable and safer co-formulant alternatives for them to develop new products.
How will Minagro leverage the Minafin Group’s R&D and production capabilities, as well as experiences?
Safer ingredients are and will continue to be developed based on our green chemicals manufacturing expertise established at Pennakem, an affiliate of the Minafin Group. It is already producing molecules based on renewable natural raw materials such as derivatives of furfural.
Minagro is also inspired by the strong green chemistry expertise of the Minafin Group. Consider for example effective microbiology screening test methods used in personal care products, which have also been used successfully to validate green preservatives for agro- formulations. This has allowed Minagro to develop protection packs as safer alternatives to traditional anti-microbial agents.
What are Minagro’s targeted areas or countries for selling products?
While Minagro is developing new products out of its site in Belgium, we are targeting the global agro sector, pending registrations in the key market regions. Initial market introductions are planned within the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).
What is Minagro’s plan for this year? Will you introduce some products into the market?
We just introduced Sovinol® S 500, a green solvent based on sugar cane derived raw material and is used in slightly lipophilic plant extractions. We are planning to introduce preservation packs enabling the end-user to have a green option along with a synthetic one. Also planned for launch is a series of tank-mix adjuvant blends with greener characteristics dedicated for soil wetting, fertilizer uptake enhancement and performance optimization of crop protection formulations.
Where can we expect to see Minagro in the next five years?
Minagro is well placed to keep pace with the agro market’s increasing demand for more sustainable co-formulants and to become the preferred go-to supplier of sustainable solutions. With the support of our network of research and regulatory organizations, our aim is to have a well-established portfolio of greener products and solutions comprising solvents and co-formulants (ex. emulsifiers, wetters, thickeners), plant extract active substances, tank-mix adjuvant blends and preservation packs providing biological protection for end use products.