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Ehle on Asia: Bayer's take on animal health's Eastern promise

With the huge number of growth opportunities for veterinary medicines in Asia Pacific, Animal Pharm editor Joseph Harvey spoke to Bayer's head of animal health Dr Dirk Ehle about the potential shown by the continent for animal health inroads.

Joseph Harvey: What do you see as the opportunities for innovations and novel technologies in China?

Animal Health Investment Forum Asia

Dr Ehle is part of the global advisory board for the upcoming Animal Health Investment Forum Asia.

The conference offers a platform to new and innovative technologies within the livestock, aquaculture and companion animal health markets. The event takes place October 19-20 2016 in Hong Kong.

Animal Health Investment Asia will feature speakers from a host of companies, including global players Bayer Animal Health, Merial, and Boehringer Ingelheim. Animal Pharmis the media sponsor for the forum.

For more information visit: http://animalhealthasia.com.

Dr Dirk Ehle: China offers huge potential with a market size of around €3.5 billion. The market is dominated by swine, poultry and dairy. I do see immense opportunities in these segments, particularly in the innovation areas of specialized vaccines, mastitis, fertility, farm hygiene and metabolics.

The regulatory requirements in China are quite complex resulting in a challenging landscape. However, we are also witnessing selected changes leading to mid-term opportunities to access the market.

JH: Would you view the Japanese market as the most modernized Asian market? And does it hold the best opportunity for companion animal products?

DE: The Japanese market is known to be the 'Europe' of Asia due to the level of awareness and advancement that has developed over the past few decades. I have experienced that consumers are willing to pay a premium for innovative solutions and products.

In particular, I have witnessed many opportunities in the companion animal segment based on increasing consumer awareness. However, the overall companion animal market is not expected to grow significantly.

JH: When developing an Asian growth strategy do you mainly focus on Japan and China, or do you take a more holistic approach to include minor markets?

DE: Asia Pacific as a whole holds the promise of solid growth, slightly above the global growth average. I do believe that we need to find the balance between the emerging markets, like Vietnam or China, and more developed markets, like Japan or Australia.

Based on our portfolio offering and species solution approach, we will capitalize on the overall potential of the animal health market in Asia Pacific.

JH: How healthy is the vet profession in Asia? Are they being threatened by online retail?

DE: The Asian market is still heavily influenced by vets for consumer awareness as well as prescription and dispensing of animal health medicines. However, with the digital age and technology advancement, I am clearly witnessing the shift towards online retail and an increased consumer awareness of alternative channels.

Nevertheless, I do believe that the vet channel will always remain as a key influencer in the animal health industry.

JH: Some Asian countries suffer from low-cost, low-quality vaccines. How do you make sure customers buy higher-price, higher-quality products?

DE: Bayer in general holds a reputation for being a responsible and research driven company offering scientific solutions and products which are safe, efficacious and scientifically proven.

Together with training programs, technical support and expert consultation, this helps us to differentiate ourselves against low-cost competitors that only focus on price rather than quality.

JH: How important is investment for the future of the animal health industry in Asia?

DE: Asia Pacific for me remains an important growth driver and I fully support investing in expanding our footprint. This includes investing into production facilities, expanding footprint with sales and marketing, introducing innovation and new technologies as well as pursuing appropriate in-organic growth options.

JH: How do you view Australia's role in the growth of animal health in Asia Pacific?

DE: Australia has traditionally been a key market in Asia Pacific. However, I now see rather limited growth potential in the local animal health market.

On the other hand, product launches in the past few years have shown that breakthrough innovation and technologies can generate a lot of growth in the relevant market segments.

JH: What are you most looking forward to at the Animal Health Investment Forum in Hong Kong?

DE: Asia is fascinating, and also for animal health. I expect a great networking event that will provide a promising platform for representatives of companies of different sizes to connect.

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