Interview with Thijs Hendrix: ‘Funding consolidation and growth’

02-11 | |
Thijs Hendrix, president of Hendrix Genetics, continues to focus on opportunities for growth and consolidation in animal breeding and life sciences. Photo: Martijn Steiner Lovisa
Thijs Hendrix, president of Hendrix Genetics, continues to focus on opportunities for growth and consolidation in animal breeding and life sciences. Photo: Martijn Steiner Lovisa

Earlier this year, Hendrix Genetics and investor Paine Schwartz Partners announced the completion of Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund V’s strategic investment in Hendrix. The transaction will enable Hendrix to continue investing across its breeding programmes, enhance its technology and data capabilities, grow its global customer base and expand into new markets. Poultry World sat down with the president and chairman of Hendrix Genetics’ supervisory board, Thijs Hendrix.

From its humble beginnings on a small mixed farm in the south of the Netherlands early in the last century, Hendrix Genetics has developed into a truly leading international player in the field of animal species used for commercial breeding purposes. Today, the company operates in more than 100 countries and employs over 3,500 people worldwide.

The company’s areas of expertise include laying hens and eggs, turkey breeding, pig breeding, aquaculture and insect breeding. President Thijs Hendrix has seen the world of animal genetics change from local to global, continued the work of his father and grandfather and followed – or rather instigated – the trend. Much has changed over the years.

Hendrix Genetics became part of Nutreco and in 2005 separated again. Investors came and went, but despite all of this it has remained a family-run and owned business. Something that didn’t change with the most recent development when Paine Schwartz Partners, a global leader in sustainable food chain investment, announced the completion of its Food Chain Fund V’s strategic investment in Hendrix Genetics.

Paine Schwartz and its affiliated co-investors, including Mitsui & Co. and Rabo Investments, now hold a 50% stake in the company with Hendrix Genetics’ co-founders, Thijs Hendrix and Antoon van den Berg, holding the remaining 50% of the company. “With the completion of this investment we are beginning Hendrix Genetics’ next phase of growth and success,” says Thijs Hendrix.

“We want to ‘step on the accelerator pedal’ and grow as a company”

He continues: “The Food Chain Fund V focuses on animal genetics and is a perfect match. It gives us the opportunity to advance the trend. We want to ‘step on the accelerator pedal’ and grow as a company, consolidate with industry partners and invest more in research and development.”

What new areas are you hoping to expand into?

We have a strong position in animal breeding. We want to use that position to grow our market share in swine, traditional poultry and aquaculture. In the last 5 years we have strengthened our position in North and South America. In the coming years we will focus on the rest of the world, with an extra focus on Asia/China and Africa for further growth. Our current consortium also includes the China Investment Corporation. With that we expect doors to open for us in the Chinese market.

Will genetics and breeding still be your core business?

Yes. Our vision and strategy is to set the standard for sustainable animal breeding. That vision clearly reflects that genetics and breeding will remain the core of our business. Our mission is to support the global food challenge with high quality animal genetics. With the world’s population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, we need to find a common strategy on how to feed this growing population.

With our mission to support the global food challenge with high quality animal genetics, we believe we can be part of the solution. But it’s no easy task. We must produce even more food, while advancing rural development, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and continuing to protect our precious ecosystems. With high-quality animal genetics as a starting point, we can secure the world’s food supply and reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment.

“Food safety, animal welfare, environmental impact, responsible consumption and the well-being of society must be placed in different contexts”

Our vision is that we have the opportunity to lead the way in setting the standard for sustainable animal breeding. There are currently no sustainable animal breeding standards but they are needed if we are to feed a growing world population in a sustainable manner for many years to come.

To create these standards, we look at multiple factors. Food safety, animal welfare, environmental impact, responsible consumption and the well-being of society must be placed in different contexts by region and country. By choosing the right animal with the right quality for the right region or consumer group, we can select for the right balance of sustainability issues and maintain our mission to support the food challenge.

How do you commit to that as a company?

We are committed to setting the standard by leading by example through improved biosecurity, additional genetic advances to improve protein production efficiency, balanced breeding programmes, improved survivability of animals to capture the full value of their genetics and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At Hendrix Genetics we are continually seeking innovative and sustainable solutions along the entire animal protein value chain. We are at the start of this chain and therefore have a significant influence. Hendrix Genetics’ vision of setting the standard for sustainable animal breeding will provide solutions to help feed the world and build a sustainable future.

Will Hendrix Genetics venture into insects, aqua and cultured meat markets?

We started activities in insect genetics in 2018. Through our partnership with Protix we have demonstrated that insect genetics has a lot to offer to this developing industry. Our activities in aqua are bigger where we see good opportunities for growth in shrimp. At this time we have no aspirations in the cultured meat market.

Can you give us an example of the type of research work that you’ll be taking forward thanks to the new financial agreement?

We will strengthen our activities in swine, traditional poultry and shrimp. The investments of PSP will enable us to achieve this and grow our research and development. Technology and data have played an important role in our development so far. Collecting information on our animals and turning that into genetic improvement is at the heart of our activities.

The importance of technology and data will increase further. That is necessary to address the global food challenge. Technologies and data science enable us to capture more data that enables us to address the needs of our customers even better.

Will the involvement of Paine Schwartz bring changes, for instance, in the area of governance?

Jolanda van Haarlem has played an instrumental role in taking the company to the next level by bringing Paine Schwartz Partners on board as a new shareholder and formulating the strategy for 2026. She considers it the right moment to take the next step. To ensure continuity and minimal disruption to the company, the supervisory board invited Antoon van den Berg to step back from the role of CEO. Antoon held this position since Hendrix Genetics was founded in 2005 up until May 2021.

Wout Dekker (former CEO at Nutreco) brings many years of experience to the supervisory board, not only in the agri-food sector but also on the supervisory boards of international companies. In this role he wants to contribute to the further development of Hendrix Genetics in a fast-changing world by helping it to realise its strategy.

“The world constantly changes and with that we have new challenges to meet”

What is your personal drive towards the future?

The world is constantly changing and with that we have new challenges to meet. These encompass animal welfare, environmental footprint and, of course, the ever-growing need for more and affordable food. It is my belief that we can meet those challenges. I want to keep building on a resilient, multi-species company with our experienced incumbent staff and new elan. I am confident that the Hendrix Genetics family will set the standard for sustainable breeding to solve the global food challenge now and well beyond 2026.

Brockotter
Fabian Brockotter Editor in Chief, Poultry World



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