What does Devenish do?
Devenish supplies high-quality nutritional products for the agriculture and aquaculture industries. It operates in more than 40 countries. While it operates in a traditional industry, it places a huge emphasis on leveraging technology and scientific research to create innovations which have been driving the group’s growth over the last 20 years.
How has Devenish grown?
The company has experienced huge growth in the past 20 years, going from £5m in turnover and 23 employees in 1997 to more than £250m in turnover in 2018 and almost 700 employees. Last year, it recorded earnings of £8m.
The company’s strategy is to “ensure one health from soil all the way to society”.
Our business model is about directing nutrients. We are very much focused on the flow of nutrients along the supply chain from farm to fork. We are not about selling more feed. It is about technical efficiency, and providing the animals with the correct level and type of nutrients.
I believe that if we provide healthy nutritious food for the soil, it, in turn, will be healthy. If we do the same for animals, they will be healthy and their welfare will be better.
How can Devenish improve human health?
Devenish partnered with chicken producer Moy Park, supermarket Waitrose and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) to develop a better way to deliver omega-3. A trial by the RCSI demonstrated that regular consumption of the naturally enriched omega-3 chicken and eggs is likely to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and depression.
Do you think it is possible to deliver carbon-neutral beef within five years?
There is an appetite for change among consumers. We have been part of model of low-cost food up to now. They will no longer accept this lower cost if it destroys the environment. Farmers will become the solution. We can do carbon-neutral beef, but there is no magic bullet. Practices will need to be modified and we are very close to it.
What are you ambitions for the business?
We plan to grow turnover to £350m within the next three years. Last year, Devenish raised investment of €118m, including €40m from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The company is using the funding to build and grow its R&D and manufacturing capabilities, as well as facilitating mergers and acquisitions.
What has been your career path?
After graduating from UCD, my first job was with Uniblock, a company that sold mineral blocks. After two years, I left to work with Nutech where I met Owen Brennan. Then in 1997, Brennan acquired Devenish and brought me on board.
Title: CEO, Devenish Nutrition
Education: Agricultural Science, UCD.
Winner of 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year