Welcome to the second in our series of interviews with the team behind Humanativ. This month we caught up with Jonny Lester, Head of Sales.
Congratulations on your new role as Head of Sales for Humanativ. Could you give us a background on your new role and what it entails?
Thanks, I’m really pleased with the new role. Humanativ is a new joint venture (JV) company formed between Devenish Nutrition and Mara Renewables Corporation.
The aim of the JV is to is to formalize a long-standing relationship between Mara and Devenish, bringing together expertise in both the production and supply of algal oil which is a rich source of omega-3 DHA, and the expertise of formulating algal oil in animal diets to achieve enrichment levels that allow on-pack claims.
As Head of Sales, I will be involved in bringing this new proposal to customers which is really exciting. The need for DHA in human diets spans across the whole world. 80% of the world’s population is deficient in omega-3 DHA so this role is truly global in its scope. As part of my role, I work closely with colleagues across the Humanativ team from directing priorities for obtaining regulatory approval for our product, to being involved in after sales support to our customers. The role also has direct responsibility for recruiting and developing a regional sales team and for developing customer relationships and building sales directly. It is a demanding role but hugely rewarding.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you have got to where you are today?
I’ve always been involved in agriculture; I studied Agriculture at Queen’s University Belfast and followed this some years later with an MBA at Edinburgh Business School at Herriott Watt University. All my career to date has been directly in, or in support of, the poultry industry. I have been very fortunate to have held positions in international technical service, helping customers achieve greater flock performance as well as a number of years in head of production roles. These roles combined have provided me with a good understanding of poultry businesses across the world.
I think moving into sales was a natural progression for me, I enjoy working with customers helping to solve problems and with Humanativ we can partner with customers to solve a real-world human health problem, providing an opportunity to develop customer businesses and add to their bottom line.
Humanativ is on a mission to change the global status of omega-3 DHA, can you tell us more about the solution and why meat and egg producers should be investing it?
Our mission is centred around the 80% of the world that do not get sufficient Omega-3 DHA in their diet. The solution that we bring in Omega-3 DHA enrichment is right on so many levels, and to our customers it really makes sense. Our solution has three main benefits, it contributes to environmental health, animal health and human health.
Environmental health – OmegaPro algal oil does not require wild fish catch, therefore it is not contributing to bio-diversity loss in our oceans.
Animal health – Omega-3 is an essential nutrient for many animals including poultry. By adding Omega-3 DHA to the animal’s diet, it can help to reduce inflammation without the use of antibiotics and contributes to several measures of health and welfare. Our trials have even shown improvements in overall animal performance.
Human health – Omega-3 DHA is so important for human health with positive effects on the heart, brain and vision health of consumers.
For meat and egg producers, the overall effect is that it makes a lot of sense financially, with the opportunity to add value and provide differentiation in the marketplace.
What would your ideal customer look like?
As we speak to meat and egg producers, we are finding a high level of interest across a wide range of types and sizes of producers, from low-cost production to premium category producers. So it isn’t really about size of the producer or how their production system works.
Producers who are keen to meet consumer demand realise that health and the environment are very much in consumers’ minds. COVID especially has made society realise the value that food and nutrition play in our wellbeing and health. Consumers want healthy, tasty food but it shouldn’t harm the environment and it should be respectful of animal welfare. We are keen to speak to producers who have a vision of developing their meat and egg range to better meet the changing needs of consumers.
Are there any key milestones you would like to see Humanativ reach in the next 5 years?
It’s been so exciting to be involved in this project from the beginning. Already we have reached some impressive milestones, from seeing the first product being delivered off the production line, to seeing the first trials going really well with potential customers. It’s still early days of course, having meat and eggs on supermarket shelves, enriched with our Omega-3 DHA more readily available is one milestone that we want to increase year after year. We would like to see the concept expand and really take off, making an impact on the health of whole countries as we provide access to Omega-3 DHA to people that were previously deficient.
Outside of work, do you have any hobbies or interests which keep you busy?
Work is busy for everyone these days, particularly when you’re building the business as we are doing. Any spare time I have is spent with my family and our Doberman. We tend to be very active, trying to find time for kayaking, mountain biking and body boarding over the summer months. During the week I like to get out for an evening run, it really helps me to wind down at the end of the working day and clear my mind. I see the benefit of good nutrition and exercise, so I try to keep as active as I can to promote good health and wellness for both me and my family.