Zoetis EVP & Group President, International Operations Glenn David and Zoetis President, International Operations Jamie Brannan speak about how the company has maintained an unwavering focus on next generation innovation for the animal health industry.
As it seems we are turning the COVID-19 page, how has the pandemic impacted your way of working?
Glenn David: First of all, I feel very positive about being able to connect in person again at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in Amsterdam. To me, the purpose is a dimension that leaders embraced more evidently after the pandemic especially in these years of economic uncertainty. Whether you work in livestock farming or support its mission, we are all connected by the essential nature of animal agriculture and its enormous contributions to meeting the needs of families around the world with a healthy affordable and sustainable food supply.
Jamie Brannan: I don’t think there is anything we could do pre-COVID 19 that we can’t do now. I think we just do things differently. We have a greater focus on our colleagues’ well-being, and we care for the continued focus on our customers’ needs.
The pandemic has accelerated digitalisation and with this, our ability to listen more frequently to the impact of virtual work for our colleagues and our customers on their mental health.
What’s on your mind for the rest of the year in terms of key trends shaping the livestock industry?
Glenn David: Uncertainty is becoming the norm as inflation rises worldwide. Consumers increasingly react to the stress of rising prices and households’ budgets are continuing to evolve, with food, transport, and energy at the top of fundamental needs while discretionary spending and savings are being cut. As we look at the future of animal agriculture however, there is no shortage of opportunity. The lowering cost of advanced technologies and increased digital connectivity creates opportunities for precision farming generating new insights to further improve animal health and welfare. Animal Ag is at the crossroads. The future of animals, our food supply and our planet are all in play. Zoetis is there too, listening to livestock farmers and veterinarians so that we are consciously creating integrated state of the art solutions that enable them to care for animals more effectively and help them run their businesses more productively.
How do you see the future of sustainability in animal agriculture?
Jamie Brannan: As cost of intrants become so important in a balance sheet for farmers, the pressure on productivity without exacerbating greenhouse gas emissions and in the face of limited natural resources and increasing attention on environmental conservation has never been so high. Moving forward, we must build on our sustainability commitments by pursuing innovation and using smart technology to make our food animals healthier and food supply chain more productive and our planet greener.
Glenn David: Building on our purpose to nurture our world and humankind by advancing care in animals, one of our strategic priorities is to champion a healthier, more sustainable future for all.
We explicitly consider sustainability in all our processes and strategic decision making, and we hold ourselves accountable to these commitments to environmental social and governance responsibilities. We support farmers by rationalising the need for antibiotic use in livestock through our continuum of care approach including prevention solutions. The use of genetic tests, vaccines pre and probiotics are important preventative steps that can limit pathogens before they form, and we continue to invest in new diagnostic capabilities so that farmers and veterinarians can take action based on solid evidence.
How important is innovation for the future of animal agtech?
Glenn David: As former CFO for Zoetis, I value innovation as a key growth driver for a company and an industry. I think it is extremely important to create a favourable environment for innovation in a career and I always thrive to create a culture of calculated risk taking. It’s what led me to Animal Health. Zoetis has a very strong track record of innovations brought to market and we are participating to forums like the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit to continue to create this favourable environment.
Jamie Brannan: Zoetis collaborates with universities, researchers, and start-ups to identify the areas in which we need to do more. Our partnerships span across all species and across the world to drive innovation into the hands of farmers and veterinarians. As the global agri-food system moves in response to external threats, innovations such as vaccines and other prophylactics become increasingly important to maintain food production and animal welfare.
Are there any particular trends to highlight in Europe?
Jamie Brannan: Beyond the world’s farmers, policy makers too are focused on sustainability and moving towards such policies across all sectors including food production.
Initiatives including the European Green Deal are centering on a ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy that incorporates sustainable agriculture into specific policy areas. It is likely that data will be used to deliver evidence-based changes to policy to create more responsive policy frameworks to support food production and combat the climate and nature crises facing communities across the globe. It is also crucial for farmers veterinarians and national agricultural bodies to design and implement data driven prophylactic schemes.