Responding to trends and entering new markets. How does one do that? Gerben de Vries, CEO at Codrico since 2019, shares his story open heartedly. He talks restoring faith of stakeholders, exploring new markets and why cordico chooses to engage in partnerships with other parties. “To reach our objectives, we need to import/bring in knowledge and expertise.”
What, according to you, is the most important development in the food industry?
There are a number of trends taking place, like non-GMO an legume-based diets. The European consumer is increasingly aware of the food chain, yet American and Asian consumers are also becoming more critical. This creates opportunities for our company.
Besides, plantbased proteins are upcoming in a number of different segments in the food industry. Lifestock farming has a large ecological footprint; think high CO2 emissions, potential virus spreaders and animal suffering. The meat and dairy industry are under pressure, but consumers won’t leave these products for good. It’s therefore advisable to create a qualitative alternative for animal protein: replacements based on plantbased ingredients. For example, to ensure a meat replacement has the same bite as real meat, plantbased proteins need to be shaped to look like animal proteins. An important step on the process is extrusion. Extrusion is the central technology of Codrico.
At this very moment, plantbased meat alternatives covers just one percent of the current meatmarket. Diverse forecasts say in ten years, around 2030, this percentage will be around ten percent.
In what way do you anticipate this and how important is new business to that?
Everything starts with the importation of crude resources. Before, we exclusively worked with corn and wheat. Nowadays we have large experience modifying different sorts of legumes, like lentils, chickpeas and soya. These resources can be processed in the same way as corn and wheat.
Adding to that, we quit positioning ourselves as starch manufacturer, but we are anticipating protein developments. We will convey this amongst others at various trade fairs leading in the field of food ignredients.
Anticipating trends and entering a new market: what does this ask from you as an organization?
On the long term, we need a twofold increase of the margin to put our company back on track again. I started at Codrico in September 2019. That wasn’t a good year. The bank and shareholders were very critical and needed renewed faith to give Codrico a new impulse.
This resulted in a new strategy in which we on the one hand remained focused on existing markets and on the other hand engage in new segments. We directed ourselves not only towards the food industry but also plantbased applications in diverse non-food segments.
To reach our goals, we are going to work with partnerships. With that I mean we hire external parties with knowledge and experience in the markets unfamiliar to us. we are currently in discussion with a few potential collaboration partners. See it as follows: we offer our resources production knowledge. The commerce and application trajects, we complete together with our partners.
How did you earn back the stakeholders’ faith?
We decided on a new strategy and presented an integral story to our stakeholders. I requested Halbe Vogel’s, from Vogelvlucht, help for that. Together with Halbe we amongst others did marketresearch on plantbased proteins. This gave us insight into the market. We now know who the concurrents and possible clients may be in the upcoming markets. Additionally, we looked at price and quality levels. If we wished to play a higher league – and that is what we wanted – we need to expand our knowledge, for instance, in applied extrusion methods. Together with Foodvalley in Wageningen we are going to test new resources and production methods.