Satigny (Suisse) (AFP)
Diet foods will become a dominant nutritional trend in the post-Covid era, the head of the Swiss group Firmenich, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of flavors and fragrances, told AFP.
The pandemic has whetted the public’s appetite for healthier products, said chief executive Gilbert Ghostine.
“With Covid, consumers suddenly realized that if your immune system is weak, if you are overweight, if you have diabetes, then you are more at risk,” he said.
“Health and wellness are so essential and nowadays people are more aware of what they are eating. “
The changes in eating habits already underway before the pandemic are now amplified by the coronavirus crisis. And that set the roadmap for the company’s investments over the next 10 to 20 years, Ghostine said.
# photo1 “The heart of our business is to anticipate consumer trends and to ensure that we invest all investments in science and resources in technology to be able to offer solutions that will be relevant to our customers .
Firmenich, the world’s largest privately held fragrance and flavor company, may not be widely known to the general public, but its ingredients can be found in thousands of consumer products.
– Two key trends –
There were two trends that were to develop in the future, he said. The first is the reduction in sugar content, which he said was one of Firmenich’s strengths.
The other is alternatives to meat and dairy, reflecting not only concerns about climate change and the carbon footprint of livestock, but also the rise of flexitarian diets – which emphasize foods made from protein. plants, without eliminating the meat.
“We will invest disproportionately behind these two key trends,” Ghostine said, without revealing any numbers.
Firmenich, unlike its main competitors, remains a family business. Not being listed on the stock exchange, it only has to reveal a few key figures from the balance sheet.
Based in Satigny, a wine-growing village on the outskirts of Geneva, the company was founded in 1895 by Swiss scientist Philippe Chuit in the garage of Charles Firmenich.
# photo2Today, it is a global group employing 10,000 people with sites in 83 countries.
It achieved an annual turnover of 3.9 billion Swiss francs ($ 4.3 billion, 3.6 billion euros) until June 2020.
The company has two main divisions: flavors, which supply ingredients to the food industry, from small companies to giants like Unilever, Nestlé, Mondelez or Kellogg’s; and perfumes, manufacture of perfumes for personal care products and perfume brands.
She counted the French perfumer François Coty among her first clients, and participated in perfumes such as Angel by Thierry Mugler, Acqua di Gio d’Armani, CK One by Calvin Klein and Flower by Kenzo.
Ghostine, the former Lebanese Asia-Pacific director of beverage giant Diageo, became CEO of Firmenich in 2014.
– Consolidation –
The company is aiming for growth of around five percent, with an emphasis on organic growth, he said.
But it is also on the lookout for targeted acquisitions in the sector which is experiencing a strong trend towards consolidation.
In February, its American competitor IFF finalized the takeover of the nutrition and biosciences branch of the American giant DuPont, which should propel it to the top of the sector, with pro forma revenues of $ 11 billion (9.2 billion dollars). ‘euros) in 2020.
Its Swiss rival Givaudan, which achieved a turnover of 6.3 billion Swiss francs, has increased the number of small acquisitions but also carried out a major operation in 2018 by acquiring the French company Naturex.
“We made 13 acquisitions in four years,” said Ghostine, the group being in offensive mode on the consolidation front.
The company, which is considering targeted acquisitions, particularly in natural flavors and technologies complementary to its own, last year seized the French DRT, which manufactures extracts of pine bark and grape seeds, used in food and cosmetics.
“We want to be a consolidator, not a group,” Ghostine said.
© 2021 AFP