An animal feed company that developed in the fields around small-town Reporoa, just south of Rotorua, is now the largest New Zealand exporter of equine feeds, shipping hundreds of containers of product into Asia and Oceania every year, with plans underway to expand into the Middle East.
And it’s easy to see why the products are so popular overseas, with four Fiber Fresh-fed race horses from Asia taking out Group One titles at the recent 2014 Dubai World Cup,
Fiber Fresh Feeds was established nearly 30 years ago by managing director and Reporoa local Michael Bell. The company is a world leader in fibre nutrition and is family-owned and operated by the Bell family, nearly all of whom are still involved in the company.
Fiber Fresh now employs around 50 people. It has a wholly owned subsidiary in Japan and is a long-time supplier to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the Singapore Turf Club and the Macau Horse Racing Company.
Mr Bell says he has always believed in fibre as a superior, more natural feed for animals, and he has a nutritional philosophy of enhancing animals’ natural digestive development and function.
“Feeding animals’ moist, truly fresh forage is the best way to feed fibre and is particularly important for the management of gastrointestinal health. The forage-based energy provided by our feeds is a distinct and healthy form of energy that generates naturally in the hindgut of a horse, for sustained release and endurance.”
Mr Bell says a key aspect of the company’s success is its unique system of forage harvesting and preservation, including a Fiber Fresh proprietary fermentation process that produces superior equine forage feed unlike anything else in the world
“Our products are truly “fresh”. This means the crops are harvested at the optimum time to retain moisture and avoid degradation, and then managed carefully and efficiently in order to retain critical nutrients.
“In order to achieve this, we have an integrated manufacturing process whereby all our crops are grown and harvested within a short distance of our production plant in Reporoa. We control all the different elements of the process, from planting through to manufacturing.”
Whilst the recent Dubai results speak for themselves, the company also undertakes extensive research and development into the effects of its products on the health and performance of horses. Further research results are expected later this year.
Currently based in Dubai, Fiber Fresh equine general manager, Ian Pryor, is exploring the potential expansion of the company’s export business in the Middle East.
Mr Pryor says the Dubai World Cup programme – the richest day of horse racing in the world – involves nine high profile races.
“Four of these races saw horses fed on Fiber Fresh products take first place. It stands to reason that these horses are doing so well as they have all the additional benefits of the world’s leading equine forage feeds.
The four horses – Amber Sky, Sterling City, Just a Way and Gentildonna – collectively earned their connections US$7.9m in prize money (approximately NZ$9.1m).
“All of these horses produced impressive performances, displaying exceptional speed and agility, says Mr Pryor.
“Our aim is to change the way horses are fed worldwide – offering a better and more natural way to optimise horse health and performance.”
Fiber Fresh Feeds has two key divisions – Equine, which caters for all horse types and focuses on providing optimal health and performance; and Ruminant (calf), which focuses on enhancing the natural development of the rumen and gut, resulting in better milk production and quality of animal.