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Published on April 8, 2021

Product Manager, Nico Buddiger gives insight into the launch of the ConverterNOVO

The launch of a new product in the world of genetics is easier said than done. It takes years of discussion, planning, and testing before the product is available for customers to place in their operations. Nico Buddiger, Director of Product Management for Hybrid Turkeys, has over thirty years of experience in the industry and is an important asset in the launch of the new ConverterNOVO in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Learn more about product development as Nico gives some insight into the process: from concept, to testing, to launch.

It’s now been 5 months since the Hybrid ConverterNOVO was launched. What are some of the objectives for this product?

For the longest time the Hybrid Converter has been the main product to cover the global heavy market segment, but over time it has become obvious that the EMEA market is different from the North American market in product requirements as well as management systems. In the end, it is the interaction between the genetics (product) and the environment (feed, housing, density, etc.) that are key to the performance in the barn, and the differences within the global heavy market have been somewhat underestimated. With the establishment of a pedigree facility in France, we created a solid base to select a product that is a better fit to European and surrounding area growing conditions, with the launch of the ConverterNOVO product as a first result of these efforts.

The emphasis in the breeding program for ConverterNOVO versus Converter shifted from delivering the highest returns for an integrated company towards a more resilient and durable type of bird, resulting in reduced mortality and culling rates while maintaining competitive processing weights at marketing age. The latter is a good fit for the EMEA market with its specific product needs. With many breeder companies being active in poult sales on the free market, sale-able poult production has also been addressed with ConverterNOVO and significant improvements have been achieved in comparison to the traditional Converter product.

When working with a new product, how do you create performance goals?

A first indication for performance that can be expected from a new product comes from the performance of the pure lines at pedigree. This is usually just a matter of averaging performance of each contributing line to the make-up of the new product. Due to possibilities of interactions between genes originating from different pure lines, these expectations need to be validated in field conditions. For this purpose, we have commercial research facilities available in France and Canada in which we house small numbers of offspring in small pens under ‘real-world’ conditions. If the results prove to be as expected, we take the next steps in approaching certain customer accounts in doing side-by-side comparisons. In these trials, the new product is compared under identical conditions with the existing Hybrid product or a competitor product. We also cooperate with several universities worldwide and customer accounts that have their own research facility to validate the results from our internal work before setting up large scale testing protocols with targeted accounts. All this information will help us in defining performance targets to accompany the launch of a new product.

Was there anything different about creating the goals for the ConverterNOVO?

Throughout the process of launching the ConverterNOVO , from internal trials, to third-party trials, to commercial side-by-side comparisons, information on performance from France, Canada, Germany, Poland and Ukraine was collected and analysed to create the published performance targets. Though we have lots of information on performance available, more will always be better to provide accurate targets. Through continuous sharing of performance data by our customers, we monitor performance of all our commercial products and publish new performance targets whenever there is good reason to. These procedures have always been in place and have not been changed for ConverterNOVO

Now, that we are starting to see some results from the field, are the standards lining up to be accurate?

Though there are sometimes deviations from expectations, we have found there are usually plausible explanations for the cause. In general, the current performance targets are pretty accurate, though as more data is obtained, we will revise the current performance targets and include the most up-to-date projections. A more frequent (semi-annual) update of performance targets might be required after the initial launch of a new product. Once the product has found its position in the market, there will be less need for a frequent update.

Do you see any other advantages this product will offer for customers?

We currently have several breeder accounts in EMEA that have placed ConverterNOVO parent stock, and there is a lot of interest in the product from commercial accounts. With the better balance in welfare related traits (durability, behaviour) and economic performance traits (daily gain, feed conversion), I am confident in the ConverterNOVO performance and am looking forward to the feedback from all colleagues and customers who are gaining experience with the new product, positive as well as negative!

On nutrition, does the ConverterNOVO require any specialized feeding program?

Our objective from the onset of this project has been to develop a product that can perform under standard European conditions with feed being a key factor in this. As mentioned before, initiating a breeding program in Europe has allowed us to ‘simulate’ European conditions a lot better than trying to achieve this in Canada. Of course, performance will be optimized when the exact conditions in the field are achieved as the conditions under which the selection program is executed, and there will be differences from country to country or even customer to customer within a country. In general, I expect the adjustments to be small or as easy as making changes in phasing of the different diets. For specific details I refer to our technical service team and nutritionist to work with the particular customer to see what can be done to optimize performance of ConverterNOVO within their organization.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Our industry has been and is facing many challenges, during which it is not ideal for launching a new product. I am confident though that our customers realize this as well and will give the product a fair chance to prove its potential.

As with all our products, we will monitor flock performance as close as possible and appreciate our customers sharing their performance information with us. In doing this we try to adjust our performance targets based on actual performance information for the field as well as identify opportunities for our customers to improve by benchmarking their performance with their peers in the industry. In the end, we will all benefit from better performance of the turkeys under our care!

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