Healthier, tastier fats and oilsPublished: 30-03-2016, | Member: Bunge Ltd
The main focus of Bunge’s Food & Ingredients division is on health, natural origin, convenience and taste. Bunge is a multinational specialized in milling grains and oilseeds and a global trader in commodities ranging from seeds and fertilizer to bottled vegetable oils. The company also produces biofuel.
Bunge was founded in Amsterdam in 1818. The family-owned company started life as a trader in grains and oilseeds, but over time grew into a global business headquartered in White Plains, NY with over 35,000 employees all over the world.
In Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Bunge EMEA employs over 5,000 employees and has subsidiaries in more than 50 countries. It has a strong infrastructure with its own ports in Poland, Italy, Russia and the Ukraine, as well as transshipment facilities at various ports in Spain, Portugal and Lithuania. Bunge’s main R&D center is in Hungary, but it also has R&D facilities in Poland, Germany and Finland.
Four focus areas
Bunge’s innovations are driven by the four customer value drivers for oil and fat, as Pierre Verdellet, Innovation Director at Bunge, explains. “Our first focus is health. We develop low trans fat and saturate fat with patented technology, for instance, and also enhance the value of the oil in terms of omega-3, by using rapeseed oil.”
“Our second focus is on developing solutions aimed at convenience, for example specialty fats and oils with improved functionalities for the bakery industry or with better performance for frying. We also pay attention to the convenience, or user-friendliness, of our packaging, for example by capping our bottles with special, easy-to-open caps.”
“Our third focus,” says Verdellet, “is enhancing the taste and smell of oils and fats, as oil is the best carrier of taste. Our R&D department has developed some specialty oils and spreads with herbal extracts, for instance. But we’re also working on a range of virgin oils from various seeds.”
Bunge’s fourth and final focus is natural origin and sustainability. “By natural origin we mean we’re reducing additives, sourcing products locally and using milder processes, such as cold pressing to produce virgin oil,” says Verdellet. ”Our subsidiary BungeMaxx is specialized in lecithin, which occurs naturally in oilseeds.” Sustainability, or by Bunge referred as ‘citizenship’, is one of the company’s core values. It covers a wide range of activities and goals, such as reducing fertilizer use and energy consumption.
“Partnerships are important to us,” says Verdellet, “particularly when it comes to innovation. We collaborate with all sorts of companies, large and small, suppliers and customers, biotech, and public and private institutions.”
Recently, Bunge Global Innovation started working with Solazyme, a biotechnology firm specialized in using microalgae to produce oil. At a newly built factory on the premises of one of Bunge’s Brazilian sugar mills, the joint venture is producing lauric acid from algae. Other business partners include DSM and Novozymes for their ingredients and enzyme technology, and NIZO food research for its knowledge of protein.
Verdellet says that Bunge is building up its arsenal of protein technology. “We’ve acquired high-protein sunflower meal technology (SunPro 50% protein) from a Bulgarian partner, which will soon be installed at our production sites, and we’ve also taken over MCN BioProducts with a full portfolio of patents for rapeseed protein concentrate for aquaculture.”
Verdellet adds that Bunge is always looking for new innovation partnerships, especially in areas such as oil and protein technology, biotechnology and novel ingredients, green packaging, nutrition and sensory delivery and consumer understanding. “We aim to build win-win partnerships with a thorough selection of projects. These partnerships may include JDAs, technology acquisition and license contracts.”