Some 20% of the global feed output is produced with Bühler technology so the environmental gains of such efforts are not insignificant, said CTO, Dr Ian Roberts, speaking on Tuesday, following the publication of the company's financial results for 2021.
Bühler, he reported, maintained its investment in percentage terms in R&D despite the challenges of the COVID-19 health crisis.
According to Roberts, the company has invested in excess of CHF 400 million (US$434m) over the past three years in terms of innovation. “We had 70 product launches just last year, across all our business activities.”
The company prioritizes smart partnerships and an innovation ecosystem that drives impact, he continued.
Technology to support insect protein production has been a priority area of innovation for Bühler over the past few years. “We see insects as a very important circularity contributor to sustainable food systems particularly if we are feeding aquaculture and poultry.”
Last March, the Switzerland headquartered company announced it had signed a strategic partnership with French insect protein player, Agronutris, in relation to its scaling up of production at a site in Rethel, in Northern France.
Looking at next steps for Bühler in that market, Roberts told FeedNavigator: “We want to support the growth of that industry and provide full solutions for companies that want to move into insect processing in the future. We have a dedicated team, and pilot and application labs set up to be able to further our knowledge [in this space].”
Demand for sustainable solutions continues to increase, said the CTO, with his presentation also outlining how Bühler can assess its client’s production sites, and support them in terms of their CO2 footprint and their net zero journeys, through various initiatives.
Performance, by the numbers
Looking at its financial performance in 2021, Bühler saw stable turnover but a growth in its order intake, by 16%, to more than CHF 3 billion.
“Because of the time gap in the plant business between order entry and turnover, the upward trend on orders is not yet visible in turnover, which remained stable at CHF 2.7 billion. The same is true for profitability, which amounted to CHF 146 million, reflecting an EBIT margin of 5.4%. Net profit amounted to CHF 113 million, also slightly better than last year. Orders on hand by year-end 2021 increased strongly by 27.2% to CHF 1.9 billion.”
All three business segments of Bühler contributed to the positive financial performance. Its grains and food division grew orders by 12% to CHF 1.8 billion, consumer foods by 6% to CHF 584 million; and advanced materials showed the strongest growth of 37% to CHF 620 million.