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Jun. 8, 2020
"To strengthen and sharpen our expertise, we invested in three application laboratories dedicated to Agri/Horti in China, New Zealand and Vietnam, to assist customers in developing tailor-made formulations, troubleshooting, and testing their products. We combine ingredients and ideas to create opportunities through our expertise and proactively develop solutions,"said Kimberly Chung, Azelis' Asia Pacific Business Development Director in a recent interview with AgroPages.
She also shared her views on Azelis' major businesses, as well as its development strategy in the Asia Pacific region, new brand promise and tagline, the challenges of formulation innovation and possible solutions, and its future strategic plan.
Asia Pacific Business Development Director at Azelis
Q1. Please introduce Azelis and highlight its agriculture business, global presence and core competitiveness.
Azelis is a leading global specialty distributor of chemicals and ingredients. We provide a comprehensive range of products and innovative services to more than 40,000 customers worldwide. Our in-depth local knowledge is supported by an international structure and value-added services including high levels of technical support and tailored solutions.
Azelis Specialty Agri/Horti, established globally, offers a comprehensive range of first class principals for the agriculture, horticulture, amenity, and farm care market segments. Our knowledgeable team has years of experience within the industry. We help customers choose the right product combination and reach their targets in terms of performance, cost-effectiveness, and environmental protection for PPPs (plant protection products), crop nutrition, and seed coating applications.
Following the acquisition of a key global market player in the Agri/Horti industry, and thanks to our strong partnership with Solvay in Europe, we launched the Speciality Agri/Horti market segment in 2017 in the Asia Pacific region where we established a significant presence with local teams in 11 countries.
We have built a strong presence in China and Indonesia. Commitment, focus, technical expertise, customer service excellence and compliance are the main factors of our success. Our teams are working closely together to bring this business model to each country and share our experiences.
Our lateral value chain allows us to interlink businesses and create new growth opportunities for our customers. We aim to become their partner in innovation, from formulation to production.
To deploy and monitor the growth of our activity regionally, in my role, I work closely with each country to ensure the satisfaction of all our partners, both principals and customers.
Azelis Asia Pacific has decided to make Specialty Agri/Horti a market segment of focus, along with Food and Health, CASE and Personal Care, to follow the growing population dynamic in the region.
We believe that our expertise can create value for our customers, who are looking for solutions to overcome technical, environmental and regulatory challenges.
Our sales team has a solid technical background in agriculture. Thanks to their experience and good market connections, they have built stable customer relationships, allowing Azelis to quadruple its turnover in the last three years.
To strengthen and sharpen our expertise, we invested in three application laboratories dedicated to Agri/Horti, in China, New Zealand and Vietnam, to assist customers in developing tailor-made formulations, troubleshooting, and testing of their products. We combine ingredients and ideas to create opportunities through our expertise and proactively develop solutions.
Q3. What is the company's growth plan in China? How do you view the development prospects of the Chinese agchem market?
In the Asia Pacific region, China tends to be ahead in terms of innovative formulations, leading regional trends in the Agri/Horti market segment. Today, our sales team clearly sees a trend towards more sustainable formulations.
To support our customers during this transition, we have been actively working on developing a portfolio that meets their needs. Furthermore, we aim to go further and be their development partner. Thanks to our Shanghai-based laboratory dedicated to Agri/Horti, we are bringing new ideas, new concepts and unique product synergies to create value through formulation support. Our sales, technical and marketing teams are working together, day-in and day-out, to bring outstanding services to customers.
Q4. What are the challenges in formulation innovation and the possible solutions? Could you share some specific cases of how your company helps clients develop innovation formulations suited to different market needs?
The market of Agri/Horti is challenged by the new regulations on fertilizers and pesticides, dependence on the climate, and the expanding food need from consumers, all pushing the industry to innovate.
In the Asia Pacific, the regulation is drastically different from one country to the other. It requires in-depth knowledge to build a portfolio in line with local needs, but also to support customers during any change. To offer optimum service, we have a regulatory expert within the region who is specialized in the field. We also still ensure that our local teams comprehend the topic well.
Here, we can cite the example of Vietnam, where the government has banned the pesticide glyphosate, used for many years in the industry. This decision was taken by the government to protect consumers, as this herbicide was declared harmful. Farmers have not been able to find an exact replacement despite the fact that there are a couple of products under discussion; they are all yet to be truly verified to emerge as the right match. While the verification is taking place, farmers are facing growing weeds and a decreasing crop yield. We are now working closely with our suppliers and customers to develop a new solution and formulations based on the authorized products.
The final consumers also have an important impact on the Agri/Horti business. On the one hand, the Agri/Horti market is dedicated to feeding the global population. As it directly impacts human health, governments closely monitor and regulate the activity as their goal is to protect the community. On the other hand, the choices and decisions of consumers change the market too. Their requirement for transparency, desire for organic products, pesticide-free solutions and alike are all needs that have reshaped our industry. Therefore, as a solution provider, but also as conscious consumers ourselves, we are developing in Azelis a portfolio of alternative eco-friendly solutions.
Another critical challenge of the Agri/Horti market is the environment. Climate change, but also variations from one year to another, have a significant impact on the business. Although new techniques are developed, as greenhouses, we are still very dependent on this factor, leading to disruptions that we cannot control.
Q5. What's the strategic plan and the future vision of your company?
Azelis' strategy for the coming years lies on 3 pillars:
- Expansion in Asia
We have a strong ambition to become the number one specialty chemical distributor. In the Asia Pacific, we intend to show a similar strength as what we offer to the markets in the Americas and in EMEA. Our team is showing drive, ambition, and motivation to achieve this goal, and is committed to being successful. It should result in a turnover exceeding 25% of the Azelis group sales by 2023.
Azelis has already been investing in digitalization efforts in different regions as part of our strategic direction. The process began in EMEA and the Americas with dedicated platforms providing formulation aid, market insights, product information, or inspiring videos. Both platforms were launched to serve customers in the best possible way. Our digital efforts will only grow in the coming years.
The importance of sustainability and green chemistry has never been higher, and we, at Azelis, hold this call of the industry in the highest regard. Our commitment to both Responsible Care & Responsible Distribution, and our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program help us continually improve our practices. One of the important recognitions of these efforts is the second consecutive Gold rating by EcoVadis, and Azelis has recently joined Together for Sustainability (TfS), a global initiative for sustainable supply chains. We help markets answer the call from the industry and customers. As mentioned earlier, by offering the right ingredients and demonstrating innovative formulations such as clean labels or sustainable product alternatives created by our lab technicians, Azelis works together with the markets for a greener and cleaner future.
If you are interested in cooperation with Azelis, please contact: AgroAPAC@azelis.com
This INTERVIEW was initially published in AgroPages '2020 Formulation & Adjuvant Technology' magazine. Download it to read more articles.
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