With consolidated revenues of 764 million euros last year, the Hamburg Stern-Wywiol Group again enjoyed double-digit growth. With 12 specialist facilities in Germany, 19 foreign subsidiaries, ten tech centres and production locations in nine countries around the globe, this owner-operated company group is one of the global players in food & feed ingredients.
Two of the growth drivers in the group are the Hydrosol and Planteneers subsidiaries. For many years Hydrosol has been a leading international supplier of stabilising and texturing systems, while Planteneers is one of the successful newcomers in the growth market for plant-based alternatives.
Key factors for the success of both companies are intense research, the development of innovative technologies, a nose for coming trends, and closeness to customers and markets. “Closeness to the market is crucial for us. It’s the only way we can offer customers the solutions they need and expect from us. Our innovations are precisely tuned to individual customer requirements,” said Dr Matthias Moser, Managing Director of the Food Ingredients Division of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe.
Corona and supply chain problems change commerce
The corona crisis and associated travel restrictions showed that many things can be accomplished online, and that travel is no longer absolutely necessary. Trends and needs have developed at different rates in different regions of the world, as have foods. Sustainability and climate protection, raw materials shortages and economical products – these trends differ in importance to producers, the trade, and consumers across different regions.
Meeting local needs with individual solutions
For this reason, this year for the first time the two sister companies invited their colleagues and partners to regional Sales Network Meetings in the different markets. The topics were focused on the respective key markets. In Dubai, Hydrosol and Planteneers presented new ideas for the Middle East and North African region and Asia-Pacific. In the Dominican Republic, Hydrosol presented profitable new products for Latin America. Economical recipes for fish and sausage products, dairy products and deli foods, as well as trend topics like healthy eating, were at the focus of attention.
In Hamburg the focus was on solutions for the European and North American markets. The main topics were plant-based alternatives, including the many possibilities offered by the Plantbaser product configurator developed by Planteneers.
We’re confident that we’re looking at a promising future with many possibilities
In addition to the specific market situation, consumer expectations, tastes and product preferences in the regions, participants presented special success stories, like using a Thermomix as a pilot “plant” for new dairy products in Latin America, the new generation of premium fish alternatives for the European market, and plant-based alternatives to classic breakfast cream in the Middle East / North African region.
Helping to shape future trends
“Challenges in raw materials sourcing, higher energy costs, the rising expectations of a growing world population regarding the flavour, appearance and quality of foods, and let’s not forget climate change and digitalisation. The world is changing faster than ever before. But we nevertheless look optimistically towards the future,” said Dr. Moser. “With all the hurdles, we also see the opportunity to offer appropriate solutions to these major challenges through scientific and technical innovation.”
One example is “cellular agriculture” – making animal products from cells. “Both the cellular approach for making cultivated meat and precision fermentation for obtaining milk proteins give us opportunities to work with innovative raw materials and products in the future as well,” said Katharina Schäfer, Team Leader Product Management at Hydrosol. “Naturally there are challenges in the development of these future technologies, including scaling and consumer acceptance. But if they can be met, these technologies can make a major contribution to sustainable nutrition for the growing world population.”
Hydrosol and Planteneers are working hard on concepts with future potential, as Dr Dorotea Pein, Director Food Trends and Innovations, explained at the Sales Network Meetings. At the focus of attention are ingredients like new proteins and enzymes, mega-trends like health and nutrition, and digitalisation and raw materials sourcing. “We’re confident that we’re looking at a promising future with many possibilities,” said Dr Moser. “Food technology is one of the key technologies of the 21st century. I’m more convinced of it than ever.”