As Inroads celebrate 30 years of trading, founder Peter Naylor wrote this article looking back at the industry and what the future of feed flavours might hold.

Inroads International celebrating 30 years
Peter & Pauline Naylor, founders of Inroads International Ltd

Peter & Pauline Naylor, founders of Inroads International Ltd

30 Years of History in Feed Flavours, Aromas & Sweeteners

Back in 1989, saying goodbye to a senior, well paid position within a big corporate was the biggest risk I think you could take. But that’s exactly what I did. Armed with a vision, an extensive book of contacts and the self–belief that I could become successful, Inroads International was born.

My wife, Pauline, joined me and together we were sourcing and trading feed additives and farm supplies which soon escalated the business, and by the mid–1990s the time was right to really fulfil my ambition – to return to a focus on feed flavours.

With flavours in my corporate background and a personal interest in flavour technology, I knew I could create something different that was technically advanced and also provided a platform to add value to our customers’ feeds. Our new approach would concentrate on changing feed palatability through taste.


We developed and invested in a food technology that is still known today as ‘Tastetite’, and it gave us an advantage that was probably way ahead of its time and grossly underestimated.

Tastetite is a unique flavour protection and delivery technology that allows us to fundamentally change the way taste (flavour) is received by target animals. The historic use of highly aromatic compounds only goes so far in improving their acceptance; to change and improve feed palatability, we need to improve the way feed and supplements taste. By modifying the taste, we are able to mask the presence of unpalatable raw materials and deliver assured intake which is the underlying pre-requisite of good nutrition.

Tastetite opened up huge opportunities for us. We had begun to invest in our own facilities and had aspirations to have complete control and full traceability of our operations. We were now exporting and became a major supplier into the US pig feed market as well as sending product to Asia and Europe. We reinvested in people and equipment, always keeping one eye on future-proofing the business.

As the business progressed, we could see many benefits to be gained from aligning ourselves with the food industry, which we set out to do with the appointment of our first chemist fifteen years ago. This flavour scientist brought us a totally new perspective, with innovation and solutions abound. His expertise pushed us further, adapting and using the huge research output from the human food industry – research that sadly agriculture will never generate sufficient funds to initiate, but work we can definitely take advantage of.

We were opened up to the benefits of new flavour profiles and we used this expertise to help offset the pressure our customers faced in raw material changes to create solutions to suit all applications, from feed to pet food and bedding.


Today, our food scientists all play a vital role in the business, feeding us with data from the food industry, which has helped us to create a significant and varied portfolio. It was Prof. David Bains’ appointment and expertise within our technical team that finally encouraged us to explore flavour technologies and their influence on young animal nutrition. David could see potential in how a concept called ‘imprinting’ – the induction of perinatal sensory/nutritional imprinting via the maternal diet – could help the feed industry.

So we approached INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) to investigate how much additional value this provided, particularly to the pig industry, with three key aims:

  • To demonstrate that active molecules of feed additives consumed by sows in their diet can be found in their milk.
  • To demonstrate that the use of feed additives in the maternal diet during gestation and lactation can modulate a piglets feed consumption, growth and/or feed efficiency.
  • To demonstrate that a continuity in terms of exposure to the active molecules of the additives via the maternal feed, milk and piglets’ feed will promote feed consumption, growth and/or feed efficiency in the progeny.

The results of our work with INRA showed that feed additives in the maternal diet did modify their milk sensory profiles and increased piglet birth weight, average daily weight gain and intakes, improvements which continued to slaughter (+5kg). The results were scientifically published and accepted in 2017 and we’re sharing this work with customers globally as well as looking at future research opportunities to drive feed efficiency further in the industry; some initial, non–scientific trials have already heralded promising results in feeding milking cattle, for example.


Interestingly, farmers’ perception has not changed in 30 years – their first judgement on smell and look decides whether or not they feed it to their animals. We were involved with some research in the US market that shows adding more flavour does have positive effects on intake and farmers will spend more if they see products delivering better performance. Sadly, parts of the feed manufacturing industry still see flavours as farmers do, being a fixed cost and reluctant to really embrace their opportunities despite the wider public and environmental pressures to improve feed efficiency.

Technology on farm is driving huge changes in the way animals are being fed across all species globally – the rise in popularity of robotic milking systems over the last five years is a notable example. This one system places a critical emphasis on appetising feed and encourage cows in, then palatable feed to ensure cows eat, with damaging results for producers if the feed fails. We can see feed manufacturers already focusing on technology changes to ensure their customers are not let down and we are ready with our expertise to help meet that need.

Current and future global pressures on availability and sustainability of raw materials is also a focus and we’re certain there’s an opportunity to further develop our technology for the benefit of the feed industry.

Legislation changes will continue to drive food security throughout the entire supply chain, which can only be positive for all concerned. We’re well placed with a great regulatory team already within in the business to ensure our customers are advised correctly and have complete peace of mind.

And, from the human food chain, combination flavours have exploded in popularity. ‘Multiple sensor stimulus’ is where an aroma and taste are different, for example, a cherry, citrus or vanilla aroma to stimulate appetite response, but the taste of sweet caramel to capitalise on palatability. Our technology and expertise already gives us the ability to deliver these concepts to animal and pet feed manufacturers.


On a personal level, I’m excited as Inroads begins its journey with Rob, our son, at the helm. His, and the team‘s knowledge of how flavours, aromas and sweeteners work is extensive, and I’ll certainly be on hand to make sure we continue to make progress in both the agriculture and pet markets.

Celebrating 30 years’ trading history is also an achievement to be hugely proud of. We‘ve decided the time is right to refresh our image so that it more closely reflects the business we have become, which is being unveiled from May onwards. There are small details in it that acknowledge our history, whilst positioning ourselves better for today’s marketing needs.

And so I’m sure the next 30 years will see our mission unwavering – to use our expertise to enable animal feed and pet food manufacturers to push the boundaries of nutrition, and whatever drives our customers’ flavour requirements, we will create a product to fit.