Breizh Algae Tour 2016: One Health Thanks to Algae!

The Breizh Algae Tour 2016 took place in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) from 13-17 November, 2016. This year's Olmix Group's annual meeting shed light on the more and more important topic of the healthy food chain and the Olmix Group's current programmes to grow plants, raise animals and process food without pesticides, antibiotics and chemical additives.

With open arms, Amsterdam (the Netherlands) welcomed 400 delegates from 44 different countries that gathered together in the ‘Venice of the North’ to attend the Breizh Algae Tour 2016 and Melspring International B.V.’s 80th anniversary.

As if no time has passed from last year’s Olmix Group’s annual meeting, the event shed light on the more and more important topic of the healthy food chain. This challenge can be achieved through the presented innovative programmes to grow plants, raise animals and process food without pesticides antibiotics and chemical additives that Olmix Group is currently working on thanks to its algae technology and its unique active molecules: the MSPs (marine sulfated polysaccharides).

Sunday, 13th November: visit to the A’DAM Tower and welcome speech at Het Scheepvaartmuseum

The first day of the event gave it quite a special touch. After enjoying the magnificent view over Amsterdam from the A’DAM Tower, guests took a short boat trip to the National Maritime Museum, which opened its doors to hold the Breizh Algae Tour official kick-off. Olmix CEO Mr Hervé Balusson and Mr Jean-Marie Bocher, Melspring Managing Director, delivered an introduction speech in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

“It is a pleasure to open the Breizh Algae Tour 2016. This year’s event will shed light on the incredible potential of algae and their specific extracts, the MSPs, in different markets worldwide”, Mr Balusson said, while Mr Jean-Marie Bocher remarked that the Breizh Algae Tour is always an “opportunity to exchange opinions and thoughts on how to build a healthy food chain to better feed 9 billion people in 2050”.


Olmix CEO Mr Hervé Balusson and Melspring Managing Director Jean-Marie Bocher opened the Breizh Algae Tour 2016.


Monday, 14th November: conferences at the Ocean Diva boat

In order to face an intense day ahead, there was no better place than the Ocean Diva venue to hold the Breizh Algae Tour’s symposium programme. Plenary sessions in the morning featured top-class speakers that dealed with diverse speeches related to the ‘One Health, Thanks to Algae!’ concept. They updated the audience on how algae can be a powerful tool to reduce antibiotics in livestock production and pesticide use in crop production.

Mr Hervé Balusson opened the symposium session by reviewing the latest scientific results of OLMIX R&D. The 2016 yield has been a rich to this matter, with the objectivation of MSPs biological activities. Especially the immunomodulatory activity demonstrated by INRA (French public institute for agronomy), followed by the obtention of a patent on this activity. MSPs are the seaweeds’ treasure. MSPs are found only in marine seaweeds, they are not in terrestrial plants, nor in fresh water microalgae or in yeast. MSPs have very diversified functional properties, from immunomodulation to antimicrobial activity, but also healing, digestive health…

We already started to put on the market new products issued from this technological breakthrough (like Searup in animal care portfolio that won this year an Innov’space award), and we have still plenty of room for new products to be delivered for the future. Only the OLMIX patented technology can reveal the power of MSPs, to provide agriculture, animal nutrition and human nutrition with innovative algae based solutions.

Olmix CEO Mr Hervé Balusson opened the symposium session.


Dr Martin Scholten, General Director Animal & Marine Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands, kicked off the morning session by talking about the undiscovered nexus between livestock and seaweed production. Dr Scholten explained that 70% of the world is covered by oceans. “We need the sea and there is a yield gap in the sea. We can harvest so much more valuable ingredients from the sea. The challenge is to apply these products in food and feed. Algae is a very interesting and valuable source of protein, lipids, but even more important, the fine biologically active elements contained in the algae, the so called marine sulphated polysaccharides [MSPs]”, Scholten addressed. He also named the potential to “further select and breed algae varieties, just like we did the last 50 years with rice and grains. There is a large variation of the algae found in the sea, and variation means that you can select!”.


Image on the right: Dr Martin Scholten at the Breizh Algae Tour 2016.



Secondly, Dr Thomas P. Van Boeckel, postdoctoral research fellow at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) gave a nice overview of the antibiotics use in feed and the related antibiotic resistance. “The increasing demand for meat consumption is placing pressure for bacteria to evolve antibiotic resistant. If we don’t take actions, antibiotic use could rise with 67% by 2030”. This is a worrying prediction, but luckily already several countries have taken the lead to take measures to reduce the antibiotic consumption. Dr Van Boeckel named the Netherlands as an example. “This country invested in hygiene measure, nutrition and overall management, against relatively small investments by farmers [1,000 – 10,000 Euro]. However, these may be relatively high investments for famers in other regions of the world”, Dr Van Boeckel said. He also mentioned that the approach of consumer media is influencing the way that people look at the use of antibiotics in livestock production. Some headlines in the US for example are very insinuating and have a huge effect on the public perception of agriculture and the way the food is produced: “The public perception is changing and that is even stronger than legislation: the livestock sector has to listen to this”.

Image: Dr Thomas P. Van Boeckel at the Breizh Algae Tour 2016


On the other hand, Olmix Group was represented on stage by Dr Thomas Pavie, Olmix’s ‘One Health’ Director, and Mr Johannes Tuinhof, Melspring’s Commercial Director.

Dr Pavie showed the way Olmix is working with the different products in its portfolio to get the best out of the animals without using antibiotics. “The MSPs found in algae are unique components and a real treasure. They are known to have a positive effect on immunity and gut health, but also have potential to act as antimicrobials”, Dr Pavie explained. Olmix has developed the SAGA concept, a programme including a range of products to boost immunity, gut health and reduce mycotoxins during the whole production period of the animals (for use by the farmer, products in the feed or products applied by the veterinarian). MSPs are an important part of this approach. “The newly opened Breizh Algae School in France is teaching the farmers, vets and nutritionists about the right way to apply these products”, Dr Pavie said. 


Image on the right: Dr Thomas Pavie at the Breizh Algae Tour 2016.



Last, but not least, Mr Johannes Tuinhof explained the need to reduce pesticide use in the global crop production: “The intensified use of current cropping systems has led to increased pesticide use. China is the biggest consumer of these products. But also North America and Europa are heavy users of pesticides. At Melspring we offer algae-based products that make the plants stronger and more resistant and increase its own stress relief possibilities, hence reducing the need for pesticides. It is the Integrated Plant Health Management approach. This is also beneficial when you think of the changing weather patterns (climate change) where plants will be more subjected to drought and increased rain in some parts of the world”. Mr Tuinhof addressed that the ‘natural’ approach of reducing pesticide use thanks to algae-based products is “only possible with a change of attitude and a change of focus”.


Image: Mr Johannes Tuinhof at the Breizh Algae Tour 2016.





From left to right: Mrs Emmy Koeleman, editor of the international animal nutrition magazine All About Feed; Dr Thomas Pavie, Director One Health Olmix Group; Mr Hervé Balusson, Olmix Group CEO; Dr Martin Scholten, Managing Director Animal Sciences Group Wageningen University; Dr Thomas P. Van Boeckel, postdoctoral research fellow at ETH Zurich; Mr Johannes Tuinhof, Commercial Director Melspring.











Afternoon seminars and Melspring’s 80th Anniversary Gala Dinner

After an intense and productive morning session, guests had the chance to choose between 3 different workshops, each of them focused on the Olmix Group’s main strategic fields of activity: Animal Care, Plant Care and Human Care.

But the Breizh Algae Tour had yet more to offer. At night, the Ocean Diva turned its outdoor deck into a whole first-class lounge to hold the Melspring’s 80th Anniversary. Accompanied by live music, one by one all delegations came up on stage and sing together some traditional songs from every different country gathered in the hall.




In this context, Mr Hervé Balusson took the lead and made the most important announcement of the night: Melspring’s recent acquisition of Farmers House factory in Rogat, the Netherlands! With the acquisition of the factory Melspring is able to further develop innovative fertiliser solutions and to increase its production output to serve the growing demand Melspring’s customers worldwide.


“A lot has changed in Melspring these past years. This announcement is very important for the Group and I am convinced we are going to work together towards a brilliant and very successful future”, Mr Balusson said.


The Breizh Algae Tour ended in a warm atmosphere, where people could exchange and discuss their views and ideas about the seminar and plan further fruitful collaborations Thanks to Algae!