Myriam Chang is Nutrition Technologies’ CFO. She joined the company in 2023 with over 20 years of experience in Finance in New York, London and Singapore, with senior roles as an investment professional in debt and equity. Myriam started her career at Credit Suisse New York and spent thirteen years at CS’s New York and London offices mainly as senior Trader in the Global Financing Group and as a fund portfolio manager focusing on emerging markets. Prior to joining NT, Myriam was Managing Director of Mandala Impact Capital, a private equity fund focused on the ag and food sectors in India and Southeast Asia, serving as board director for several of the fund’s portfolio companies. Having been born in Mexico, Myriam is a native Spanish speaker and has a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
You have a rich career in the industry. What initially lead you to this field?
I started my career in Finance, first covering a wide range of sectors but more recently as a Private Equity investor focused on the agriculture and food industries. This allowed me to see first-hand the urgent need to tackle food security and climate risks by finding sustainable alternatives to our existing food systems. I believe that an insect-based solution is the most scalable and sustainable solution to these challenges, particularly when rearing black soldier flies in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible. The BSF industry has also matured significantly over the past few years, with companies like Nutrition Technologies reaching industrial scale and successful commercialisation. Finally, I am particularly excited at the pioneering research NT has been conducting on BSF and insect bioconversion with new and innovative products in the pipeline, all of which could prove ground breaking for animal (and plant) nutrition and health.
Is black soldier fly the future of petfood? To what extent is it a sustainable solution?
Petfood formulated with black soldier fly has shown to have multiple nutritional and functional benefits, and importantly, its taste is not only accepted, but preferred by pets. Insect-based petfood also has a considerably lower carbon footprint, especially when using black soldier fly which have been reared and manufactured in the tropics in a low-energy and circular process – such as the one used by Nutrition Technologies. I absolutely believe that in the near future, BSF petfood will be a mainstay of the industry, and the easy go-to choose for the sustainability-conscious consumer.
What are opportunities for solution innovations that support sustainable goals in current industry?
Nutrition Technologies’ biotech platform and R&D capabilities allow for the development and commercialisation of organic compounds traditionally only obtained via unsustainable synthetic means. Innovation on this front will result in new products for animal and pet nutrition, animal health, and animal medicine. All of this produced sustainably and with benefits for both pets and the environment.
NT is also active in exploring opportunities for valorising more waste streams using this technology, which will result in additional positive environmental and social Impact, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
South east Asia is noticeably becoming the hub of insect based feed sector? What might be the factors contributed to this scenario?
The black soldier fly is a native species of the tropics, and Southeast Asia has the optimal climate conditions to breed and rear them in a low-energy way. The region also has a wide variety and abundance of raw materials, which ensure a truly sustainable and circular production process. Other factors contributing to this development include proximity to large animal feed producers and end- users in Asia, good transport links to the rest of the world, as well as a rich talent pool to further the research and development of new products.
Moreover, countries in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia and Singapore have taken proactive and pragmatic steps to boost the industry by simplifying processes, while at the same time introducing key quality control measures, including regular auditing and testing. This ensures high quality standards in food quality and safety. From our production plant based in Malaysia, Nutritional Technologies is the first Asian producer to achieve EU certifications allowing us to export to the EU petfood market.
What are the worst impact the pandemic had on the feed industry?
Based on our experience in Malaysia, during the pandemic only 60 percent of our staff were allowed on-site, which led to significantly reduced production volumes and slowed down innovation and the development of new products. In addition, as funding and manpower for R&D were restricted during this period for both our company and our customers, this resulted in much longer delays in the research of new feed formulas and procurement decisions.
Logistics-related interruptions due to the pandemic also had an impact on operations, including the timely delivery of our products. It was far from being an ideal operating environment.
However, despite these challenges, we ensured that the wellbeing of our employees remained our main priority, and I am happy to see that since the end of the pandemic, our team have been able to make up for lost time by steadily resuming production increases, entering new markets, and launching new products.
Going forward, what aspects of petfood nutrition would you like to see addressed and why?
I think that it is imperative that we place sustainability at the forefront of the production process for petfood, with a wider range of petfood offerings manufactured with insect protein and oils. More innovation is needed in the development of petfood with specific health benefits to meet diverse customer needs. Natural supplements made with compounds derived from insects could be a main source of pet health and nutrition, also used to address specific health conditions.
It would also be beneficial to see more reporting and tracking of carbon footprint on petfood products, benchmarked against better industry standards to track scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions within the petfood sector. The inclusion of this information on product labels would allow consumers to make an informed decision when assessing the carbon footprint of the product being purchased.