“2021 holds a lot of promise for Novozymes”

In an exclusive interview with BioVoice, Krishna Mohan Puvvada – Regional President and Head, Consumer Biosolutions – India, Novozymes shared interesting insights on the latest activities, learnings from covid, future outlook and much more

Krishna Mohan Puvvada, Regional President and Head, Consumer Biosolutions–India, Novozymes.
Popularly called Mohan at Novozymes, Krishna Mohan Puvvada has served the organization for over 20 years in various roles. Having joined the company in 1997 as Marketing Manager, Mohan rose through the ranks covering diverse industry segments and geographies. Prior to Novozymes, Mohan had worked with Lupin laboratories where he was responsible for the launch and promotion of specialty products in South India. Mohan did his MBA from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and did his Bachelor’s in Microbiology from St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science.
It has been over two years since Mohan took up his new role as the Regional President and Head, Consumer Biosolutions–India, Novozymes. Here we discuss what all happened in the last few years in terms of activities, learnings from covid, future outlook, and much more.

BV LogoWhat were the key learnings for Novozymes during COVID-19 and how are you planning to utilize these learnings in the future?  
The year 2020 has been unprecedented with COVID-19 and forced us to adapt continuously and demonstrate resilience. Striking the right balance between staying safe and maintaining business continuity has been a key priority for all of us. Despite external challenges, our teams passionately carried out operations effectively to bring value to our customers, communities, and colleagues.
In the initial tough days of lockdown, our production site near Mumbai continued to operate with limited strength, to cater to customers who come under essential services. Additionally, the team went out of their way to support neighboring communities and frontline workers, in these trying times. Similarly, at our Bangalore campus, colleagues in research and technical services continued to operate in shifts and deliver on global research projects. As an organization, we also transitioned to virtual onboarding and continued to hire good talent.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for going digital in order to overcome travel restrictions, and this is a development we embrace. By enhancing and expanding the use of digital tools, we improved collaboration within the organization, strengthened customer relationships, and drive new leads without notable interruption.
The company also engaged employees in creative virtual ways, to ensure continued culture sustenance and employee well-being.  While 2020 was a unique year, there have been learnings to stay agile, efficient, and responsive to customers.
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Key milestones achieved by Novozymes India in FY 2020-21 and what are the plans for FY 2021-22? New verticals where you are focusing and how it will impact Novozymes?
Globally, Novozymes delivered results as per the revised guidance. For India, the performance across industries was varied and impacted in different ways by the pandemic. Many industries that we operate in like Household care, Baking saw gains while Industries like Brewing, Textiles were impacted due to restrictions and decreased consumptions. We experienced volatile consumer and customer demand in the first half of 2020 – but we kept all operations running and delivered.
Globally, we launched 18 new innovative products across varied Industries in 2020 and move towards commercial realization in key platforms. We acquired PrecisionBiotics Group Limited and Microbiome Labs, both related to biological solutions for human health. As a significant milestone, the company was reorganized, steering its focus towards customers and geographies. This new direction enables us to move even closer to our customers and solidify our position as the leading provider of biotech solutions.
Our two divisions, Consumer Biosolutions and Agriculture & Industrial Biosolutions allow for a more integrated approach towards end markets, defined by common characteristics and value drivers. Consumer Biosolutions caters to industries that supply sustainable solutions with clear consumer benefits and Agriculture & Industrial Biosolutions cover industries that supply sustainable solutions focused on maximizing yields and optimizing processes for our customers. This is an important milestone in our ongoing journey.
Consumer Biosolutions (CB), which I lead in the India region, unite all consumer-facing industries in Novozymes and covers Baking, Dairy, Beverages, Protein, Food and Household Care. Our focus is on improving consumer products that can be found in supermarkets. This also means that our most important task in the division is to support our customers in producing better sustainable products designed for consumer needs.
With this new direction, we have become more solutions-oriented in our innovation model. In CB, we announced a joint launch with Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned perfume and taste company, of a solution that brings unparalleled sugar reduction in dairy products. The partnership is an example of how to bring new solutions to market faster while also tapping into a growing global consumer trend. We also entered into a research partnership with Givaudan, the world’s largest flavor and fragrance developer, to work on the research and development of innovative sustainable solutions in Food & Beverages and Household Care.
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How is the company’s performance expected in terms of revenue and profit during FY 2020-21 and what is the forecast in FY 2021-22? What are the growth drivers? 
We are proud of the advances made in 2020 despite the pandemic which is a testament to the Novozymes purpose, culture, and well-diversified business model. 2021 brings incredible scope for looking towards customers, markets, and the future. Despite the dynamic environment, we are confident of our growth in 2021 which will be enabled by a more streamlined organization, a stronger commercial presence, innovation, and a gradual recovery in the industries negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In India, with the Government’s mission to be a USD 150 billion Bioeconomy by 2025, we see a huge opportunity for Novozymes to contribute to this journey. With our strong foundation in biology and our purpose in sustainability, we will continue to work towards translating the needs and demands of the market into biological answers for our customers.
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What are the current core activities of the company in the Asia Pacific and in India? What new opportunity areas are being eyed by the company in near future?
We have key production sites in China, Denmark, USA, Brazil and India that cater to our requirements globally. We have expanded our local presence in markets like Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and recently Bangladesh. This would help identify customer needs and engage better.
We continue to be highly committed to innovation and keep investing in new promising areas – Few examples: New technology in laundry enabling our vision for 100% biological detergents; Game-changing Freshness technologies bringing new benefits to laundry consumers; and Plant protein innovation to bring consumers tasty, healthy and sustainable alternative for proteins. We are also exploring a number of new growth areas in the Food and Beverage space
In India, there are opportunities towards Biofuels, Bio-Agriculture wherein the technologies can make a significant contribution towards some of the national priorities.
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How are you leveraging the R&D footprint in India towards developing next-generation enzymes for global customers?  
Novozymes continues to be an innovation-based company with superior R&D capabilities. As we try to increase our emerging market presence across the world, the learnings in a key market like India are transferred to other regions. We are also investing more towards developing solutions that are broader than enzymes to help bridge some crucial gaps in customer adoption of new technologies.
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Which biodegradable products are the company making to lower the chemical usage in detergents and improving the eco-friendliness of detergents?
Enzymes are highly weight-efficient ingredients in the cleaning space. Incorporation of Enzymes helps towards enhancing sustainable technologies into various applications in the Powder, Liquids, Dish wash etc. Novozymes is on an ambitious journey to enable 100% biological detergents. The journey towards this will be challenging and exciting. We are prepared to go through this path to improve the eco-friendliness of detergents.
The definition of a biological detergent has many aspects, and the situation today can be baffling for anyone seeking a truly sustainable product. Given the power of enzymes to do more with less, Novozymes believes enzymes are part of the solution. But enzymes can’t do it alone. Novozymes is eager to partner with companies who share the vision of creating 100% biological detergents – measurable across the different factors described here – without compromising wash performance or cost.
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Has India done enough to create more bio-based fuels? Where do we stand now and what is the future like?
The National Biofuel Policy, 2018, sets up a good direction for biofuels (from domestic feedstock) in India. The Policy categorizes biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable the extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
The Government has set an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel to be achieved by 2030. As of today, 7% blending target has been achieved; the government is promoting the production of biofuels by incentivizing the industry by providing price support, soft loans to install or modernize existing units.
Development of the 2G industry would require clarity on price, fiscal incentives, and a conducive framework for the development of inputs. The successful implementation of the first few projects of 2G project is key for it to take off.
For Biodiesel, despite Government support (by increasing biodiesel procurement prices through OMCs), the measures are yet to show value as feedstock (edible oil and its derivatives) prices have been on an upward trend for the last few months. Thus, making Biodiesel production less attractive. Efficient Collection of used cooking oil and its utilization can strengthen the biodiesel sector in India in the future.
To conclude, we appreciate the strong intent of the Government and believe that we are heading towards a better tomorrow.
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How is the company reaching out to customers to address local-specific consumer unmet needs? How much effort in terms of the scientific workforce and R&D investments are you planning to achieve and areas where you are working? 
With India moving towards a rising income country, there are multiple consumer trends that are picking up. For example, demand for protein is set to increase, and we are exploring how Novozymes can help cater to the unmet needs with alternate proteins. Value-added Dairy is another segment where we see interesting developments. There are also rising opportunities in the area of industrialization of food In the Detergent space, the Covid -19 has provided a space for clean technologies. In general, Green ingredients are enablers of cleantech.
I can only say that prioritization becomes key for enabling and finding answers to consumer’s unmet needs. As a company, we constantly evaluate investment opportunities into our teams to make a difference to society.
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How is Novozymes spreading scientific enthusiasm for industrial biotechnology across universities/academia via outreach programs?
This is an area where we want to do more. In the past, we had initiatives like ‘Voice of BT’ which was a program to spur enthusiasm for Biotech. Providing Clean Water and Sanitation (UN-SDG 6) is a key cause that we have been supporting through our outreach program. Recently, we have partnered with an innovation-driven start-up from Denmark, which would like to explore and provide low-cost water solutions to underprivileged communities in India.
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Capex invested in FY 2020-21 for India operations and what is the plan for FY 2021-22? What are the plans related to automation and digitalization across all your operational units?
Our investments made into our production facility over the last few years are being capitalized. As India grows, we are open and committed to fresh investments to make difference to Indian consumers.
COVID-19 has fast-tracked our way into the digital world. We have experienced the enormous advantages of digitalization and automation. It has enabled us to stay agile, efficient, and responsive to customers. We believe in the benefits of digitalization and will be an area where we will focus heavily in the future.
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How is the company striking a balance between environment-friendly policies and sustainable growth? What are the key CSR initiatives being undertaken by the company?
At Novozymes, sustainability is the basis of our solutions. We use biotechnology to enable our customers to deliver more sustainable solutions to society. We are proud that our solutions contribute to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), directly or indirectly.
Every day, in over 130 countries and 30 industries, our enzymes and microbes help reduce energy, water, chemical, and raw material consumption to help improve the performance of customer products and give people healthier and more sustainable choices for living better lives. By laying the foundation for a sound business and future growth we are, helping drive towards a more sustainable future for the world. Some of our corporate sustainability targets include saving 60 million tons of Carbon dioxide by enabling low-carbon fuels in the transport sector in 2022; reaching >4 billion people by providing laundry solutions that replace chemicals in 2022; and production and consumption gain of 500,000 tons of food by improving efficiency from farm to table
Towards creating a positive impact on society, we have been engaged in various CSR initiatives in India. Recently, in India, we have started working on an ambitious water project ‘NOWO – Novozymes Water Opulence’, to address water scarcity in the villages near our production facility in Patalganga, near Mumbai. As part of this project, Novozymes, with our partner, Anarde Foundation, and the local community are working on rejuvenation of the existing water bodies, augmentation of the water supply system, and empowering villagers to be self-reliant in water. The team is also educating villagers on the smart and appropriate use of water.
This is a small step in the right direction, making a difference and hoping to improve the quality of life of people in the neighborhood of Novozymes facility.
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What is the future business outlook for the company in FY 2021-22? 
2021 holds a lot of promise for Novozymes. We are on an exciting journey to deliver biological answers for better lives in a growing world. And the world needs our solution now, more than ever.
We believe we are positioned well to bring the voice of the customer into the heart of what we do.  And by better understanding the world of our customers and our markets, we will develop more relevant solutions that meet their needs. We also aim to help customers reduce their overall climate impacts, especially through consumers’ use of our solutions, and we will enable more efficient production and resource consumption.
Though we expect a gradual recovery from the pandemic impact in 2020., we must remember that we still have not fully recovered from the pandemic, this has a huge bearing on the outcomes. In 2021 the company expects 2-6 % organic growth supported by innovation, stronger commercial presence, and gradual industry recovery.