What sets Vecol apart from other companies, and what are the associated advantages in terms of business and company development?
Vecol is different from most other laboratories, both in the veterinary and the agrochemical sector, as we have an extensive portfolio that covers the needs of most producers. We have divided our activity into four main business lines. First, we are the main provider for key vaccines such as FMD, Brucellosis, and Rabies. We also have nine additional vaccines and a large portfolio of pharmaceutical products for pig, bovine, horse, sheep, goat, and avian livestock. In terms of the agricultural sector, we have crop protection products, such as herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. We also have edaphic and foliar fertilizers. Vecol seeks to offer high-quality products that are available for all farmers at affordable prices.
How important is innovation in terms of the company's development?
Innovation is another aspect that sets Vecol apart from other farming companies in the Colombian market. Vecol has a research and development department, and many of the products we offer are developed within our own company. In addition, we have created several strategical partnerships, both at a national and international level. Thus, we collaborate with institutions, universities, and companies in Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Spain, the US, India, China, and Russia, among others, in order to launch products that have already been developed or leverage on their technology. In 2021, we have developed seven new products in-house, including four pet cosmetics, an anti-inflammatory product for livestock, and a vaccine for pigs. In addition, we are commercializing a line of bio-stimulants as part of our partnership with Cytozyme. In fact, we have signed an exclusive distribution contract in Colombia for 10 bio-stimulant products that are chemical-free and improve productivity in almost all crops. At first, we are offering this product for flower gardens and fruit trees, which allows us to cover the needs of more producers with innovative solutions. In addition, Vecol has been investing in sanitary excellence projects since 2014. We have worked on more than 30 different projects that deal with the diagnosis of diseases with the participation of universities, local governments, and entities such as Agrosavia. This enables us to identify the diseases that most affect animals in a certain area in order to improve our research and development department.
How is Vecol working to become more efficient, and how does this involve technology?
When I first started working at Vecol, the board of directors asked me to develop a strategic plan in order to become a leading company at both a national and international level, by offering high-quality products and also innovating and offering new products that satisfy the field's needs. Therefore, we developed a strategic plan in conjunction with an excellent consultant so that Vecol was able to follow the best quality and efficiency processes. We started working on this project since 2019 and have been supervising each and every process. One important transformation project has to do with the change of our information system from AS/400 to SAP 4/Hana. We are currently implementing a new information system that allows us to make decisions quicker and, therefore, be more efficient. This is an ongoing improvement process that we want to maintain, as this is an extremely competitive market. Thus, we are in the process of developing a new costing system. In terms of audits, we have also been working on a risk management system and even have software to monitor all manner of risks in order to maintain our activity and therefore achieve sustainable and profitable growth.
What is the main focus area for Vecol at the moment?
In terms of our long-term strategic plan, we decided it was crucial to update our infrastructure and most of our equipment, as Vecol started its activity 67 years ago and needs to update its plants. A new plant dedicated to FMD was created in 2005, it has a biosafety level 3 and it is in line with all the Colombian Agriculture Institute's (ICA) requirements, as well as international regulations. We also export our products to countries such as Ecuador and Uruguay. Our pharmaceutical plant was updated in 2006. Now, we want to update our biological products plant. We are currently designing it with the help of various consultants in order to comply with both local and international requirements, which will help us expand into other countries. Mexico, Spain, Central America, and South America have shown great interest in our activity. We expect to have an investment of COP55 billion in the next five years. At the same time, we also plan to launch many products within all the areas already mentioned, such as the agricultural, pet, animal production, and FMD sectors. In terms of pets, we consider this area a great business opportunity. We have our own pharmaceutical products for pets, as well as a rabies vaccine, Rabicán. Over 6 million pets are vaccinated every year in Colombia. In fact, given the situation with the pandemic, this amount has currently increased to around 8 million dogs and 4 million cats. Therefore, this market area has great potential. In 2020, despite the pandemic, we saw great demand for our products and experienced a significant business growth. This year, we are maintaining this trend. In addition to our own product lines, we have a partnership with Catalysis, a Spanish company. We are its exclusive distributor in Colombia, offering nutraceuticals produced through a special technology that maximizes the effect of nutrients in animals in order to fight against different kinds of diseases. For instance, we have products that deal with obesity, cancer, kidney and liver diseases, among other ailments.
What is your final message to the Colombian agro business community about what makes Vecol stand out?
Vecol only offers products that comply with all the quality requirements set by the regulatory bodies in order to ensure animal safety, confidence from all producers, and to maintain the company's reputation. As a company, Vecol has many complex production processes, especially in terms of vaccines. For example, it is not easy to develop a product such as Hexagán, which fights against six kinds of bacterial strains that affect bovine animals. This kind of products must be tested both in laboratories and on animals. We test all our vaccines on animals in a vivarium, and the ICA also executes field tests. Thus, we guarantee a Vecol product has undergone all the necessary quality tests and complies with all standards before it goes to the market. In Vecol, we have a team of collaborators fully committed to offer optimal integral solutions that guarantee the best possible animal health and maximize agricultural productivity.