Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Fermenta Biotech Limited: Delivering sunshine globally

Working on a belief that only through collaborative efforts from all key stakeholders can the world win the battle against hidden hunger

Published: Jan 19, 2021 10:44:16 AM IST
Updated: Feb 9, 2021 06:44:15 PM IST

Fermenta Biotech Limited: Delivering sunshine globally
Vitamin D is a micronutrient that plays a role across life stages, for various health benefits, from immune support and maintaining wellbeing to specific applications in bone, heart and mental health, amongst others. It isa cause for concern that more than a billion people worldwide do not possess optimal levels of the sunshine vitamin. In fact, in India alone, 80-90% of the population suffers from low Vitamin D.

As the only manufacturer of Vitamin D in India and one of the leading players globally, Fermenta Biotech Limited plays a key role in maintaining the health of communities through its flagship product. Headquartered in Thane, Maharashtra, where their R&D centre is also located, their manufacturing facilities are based in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh and Dahej, Gujarat. Apart from Vitamin D, Fermenta also possesses expertise in integrated biotechnology platforms such as enzymes for antibiotic synthesis as well as environmental solutions for waste water management and treatment.

Prashant Nagre serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Fermenta Biotech Limited. With a career spanning 28 years, Prashant has comprehensive experience across various spheres encompassing Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Human and Animal Nutrition domains, and has been associated with Fermenta for more than a decade.

Prashant firmly believes in the power of micronutrients for creating a healthier world. “I strongly believe that only through collaborative efforts from all key stakeholders can the world win the battle against hidden hunger”, he asserts. Eliminating malnutrition is a cause that inspires him to work towards reducing micronutrient deficiency through affordable nutrition. In light of the widespread hidden hunger, affecting over 2 billion people worldwide according to WHO, the mandate to provide accessible micronutrients to the society has become stronger than ever.

Fermenta has taken steps in the direction of its ambition to launch nutritional ingredients with a story – in partnership with a leading manufacturer from Chile, it offers natural astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant, across the Indian subcontinent for human and animal nutrition applications. Moreover, the company has also recently started offering fish oil cholesterol for aquaculture. Fermenta envisages adding more products in its potential pipeline through various strategic collaborations.

Catering to over 300 customers across 50 countries

Over the last decade, Fermenta has transformed itself from a solely domestic-focused company to gain an international presence, catering to over 300 customers across 50 countries worldwide, with more than 70% of revenues now arising from exports. Recently, two international subsidiaries in Germany and the USA, have been established. Some noteworthy transformational activities undertaken at Fermenta are its efforts towards capacity expansion, increasing its global footprint, digitization initiatives, customer proximity measures and product quality assurance.

Over the last few years,Fermenta has implemented the following measures:

1.  Enhancing Vitamin D product offerings:Creating value-added variants of the existing Vitamin D portfolio with increased attributes viz. solubility and bioavailability to match user requirement, for applications across segments such as food, feed, pharmaceuticals, dietary & nutritional supplements, veterinary and rodenticide

2.  Backward integration:The plant at Dahej has also been utilized for manufacturing of Cholesterol (Key raw material) from wool grease, which has propelled Fermenta to a niche category of sustainable Vitamin D suppliers and increased the firm’s self-reliance.

3.  Scaling up capacities:Fermenta has leased out 40,000 sq m land in Sayakha, Gujarat, for enhancing its capacity and new projects, which is expected to be operationalized shortly.

Certified as a Great Place to Work®

Talking about the biggest factor for Fermenta’s success, Prashant says, “I strongly believe that the true wealth of an organization lies in its people. Our human capital across locations consisting of technical experts, scientists and professionals across domains who have been a part of our journey are our drivers of growth. At Fermenta, we believe in the concept of shared success, and taking our employees along as we grow”. For the second consecutive year in a row, Fermenta has been certified as a Great Place to Work®.

Over the last decade, there have been some strategic changes at Fermenta, from its merger with DIL Limited (merged entity named as FBL) to upscaling capacities and capabilities to be future-ready. All this has been done with one aim in mind: Fermenta’s outlook for its business. “Health” and “Hygiene” are the twin mottos that drive its performance – be it in the Vitamin D business, or biotechnology products including enzyme solutions or environmental solutions for managing and treating waste water. The company’s singular focus on nutrition now fuels its hunger for growth by adding new nutritional ingredients to its basket of offerings.

At Fermenta, the team’screativity is centred around the clientele – be it consumer-driven innovation at their R&D centre, or the team’s front-line obsession that ensures to completely focus on consumers’ requirements. “Our employees are integrated such that cross-functional teams come together in a continuous endeavour to deliver excellence”, Prashant says.

Pearls of wisdom

Prashant has a piece of advice and says, “The importance of the products and services provided by this sector has been underlined during recent times. It is imperative that we come together as an industry to collaborate and develop science-backed products that fulfil our communities’ requirements. Partnerships with academic and government organizations will pave the way to ensure the health of our nation”.

As an organization, there are three investments that are imperative for sustainable and profitable growth: people, products and processes. As a leader, the relationship that one shares with stakeholders – be it customers, employees and members of the community, is the ultimate proof of the work ethic and integrity that one commands.

“Fermenta’s Corporate Social Responsibility activities remain close to my heart, with our associations with local schools, panchayats as well as organizations such as the National Association for the Blind, India helping us to drive sustainable business growth inclusive of communities”, Prashant concludes.

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