“Over the years, secure and efficient processing, handling and storage of crops to guarantee food safety and prevent post-harvest loss worldwide have remained Cimbria’s constant focus. We are committed to helping producers, manufacturers and farmers sustainably feed the world safe and clean foods through developments and investments in digitalised products and services.”
Food security is a top priority and a long-standing challenge facing the international community. The COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events, economic recession, and the Russia-Ukraine war led to sharp rises in grain prices, further exacerbating the imbalance between supply and demand. The war has led to a rapid global breakdown in food security due to the importance of both countries in supplying grain.
As fears of a global food crisis are growing, the awareness about food processing, grain handling and storage, and post-harvest loss prevention is increasing. And digital technologies have the potential to improve efficiency, transparency, and traceability in these critical areas. Aware of this potential, many companies are trying to diversify the digital solutions they offer to their customers. Denmark-based Cimbria stands out as a leading company. The company celebrates its 75th anniversary with a commitment to digitalization and increased customer productivity.
“We are committed to helping producers, manufacturers and farmers sustainably feed the world safe and clean foods through developments and investments in digitalised products and services. Our recent rebranding in 2021 symbolises this dedication,” says Gary Rollinson, Managing Director for Cimbria, in an exclusive interview to Miller Magazine. He underlines that these smart solutions and services maximise resource potential that allows better quality and less waste, leading to more capacity and helping us feed the world. Given that the increase in global grain production is attributed to the advent of new technologies, innovations, and process improvements, Mr. Rollinson’s comment becomes even more important.
Six years ago, Cimbria became a part of the AGCO Corporation, a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology. This acquisition is a milestone for Cimbria. The company has invested heavily and achieved outstanding growth since becoming part of AGCO. “We’ve seen a significant increase in our product and service offerings year on year. This growth increase means more customers are enjoying our innovative, forward-thinking seed, grain and food solutions across the globe,” states Mr. Rollinson. And he expects Cimbria to set a record in sales this year.
Gary Rollinson, a doyen of the agriculture industry, answered our questions on trends in the industry and Cimbria’s future.
Mr. Rollinson, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a born and bred Liverpudlian living in Switzerland with over 34 years of experience in the agriculture industry working for AGCO Corporation, first as a Global Purchasing Director, then as Vice President for VP Challenger, EAME. I’m now Vice President for Grain & Seed, EAME and APAC and Managing Director for Cimbria, overseeing multiple locations such as Denmark, Austria, Italy, Kenya and the Czech Republic.
Cimbria celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Can you tell us more about the company’s history and how it has developed over the years?
Cimbria has a long and illustrious history going all the way back to 1947, when brothers Erik, Svend and Henry Olsen began designing and producing agricultural machinery in Denmark. Since then, we have witnessed the company go from strength to strength, becoming a world-leading company in global grain, seed and food processing, handling and storage.
We’ve penetrated various markets across multiple countries, offered customers the highest quality products and services, and pushed the boundaries of technological innovation in the grain, seed and food industry. We established operations in Sweden in 1966, Kenya in 1980, the UK in 1986 and China in 2000, and acquired facilities in Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic before becoming part of AGCO in 2016.
Over the years, secure and efficient processing, handling and storage of crops to guarantee food safety and prevent post-harvest loss worldwide have remained Cimbria’s constant focus. We are committed to helping producers, manufacturers and farmers sustainably feed the world safe and clean foods through developments and investments in digitalised products and services. Our recent rebranding in 2021 symbolises this dedication.
A TRUSTED SUPPLIER
Cimbria’s 75th anniversary is an exciting milestone. We look back on the company's progress and say, “Wow! We’ve built something incredible here. Our solutions provide countless benefits to our valued customers”. Throughout the years, we have endlessly supported the seed, grain and food industry and become an expert at the side of many customers and partners, which still remains our most important promise. It really makes us excited about the future ahead.
What reputation does Cimbria have in the grain processing, handling, and storage industry?
I’m proud to say that Cimbria’s reputation in the grain processing, handling and storage industry is stronger than ever. We’re regarded as one of, if not the most reliable and globally recognised suppliers of high-quality grain processing equipment.
I think what makes us stand out is we’re a trusted and efficient supplier. We combine extensive knowledge, expertise and capabilities to help our customers secure solutions that match their specific business requirements. At the same time, we make sure our efficient processes deliver these solutions on time, every time. Our advanced equipment is capable of sustaining 365-day operations and offering customers complete processing solutions, ensuring safety, reliability, sustainability and cost-effectiveness at every level.
Cimbria is working on multiple large port projects across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “One of our largest project is the delivery of 23 grain silo plants in Egypt, with a combined storage capacity of 1.38 million tons. Silo locations will stretch from the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal all the way down to Aswan, covering over 1,000 kilometres,” says Gary Rollinson, Managing Director for Cimbria.
Our Customer First strategy is one of Cimbria’s defining features and showcases our reputation as a trusted industry partner. We bring together multiple partners within the seed, grain and food industry to offer numerous customised solutions from different companies, ensuring the best experience and performance for our customers.
LESS WASTE AND HIGHER EFFICIENCY
One example of our Customer First strategy is the collaboration agreement between AGCO and Ocrim. This collaboration simplifies and expands the entire turnkey process, giving our customers a single point of contact and unfiltered access to all of AGCO and Ocrim’s solutions that are fully integrated in a seamless turnkey milling plant.
You are committed to digitizing the products and services you offer for seed, grain, feed and food producers. What do you see as the advantages of digitalization in addressing food security concerns and the effects of climate change? How technology and smart solutions will influence the industry’s future?
Addressing climate change and food security has always been one of our main focuses. We need to take our customers on a journey and help them connect and understand where their pain points lie, which, in turn, helps the industry achieve a more efficient, robust and safe global production environment. We are fully committed to digitising our products and services, offering advanced, fully automated, eco-friendly smart solutions for global seed, grain and food producers worldwide.
Our smart solutions work on three primary principles to address food security and climate change concerns: Traceability, Efficiency and Ease of Service.
Traceability means collaborating with various vendors to provide our customers valuable information throughout the entire process, ensuring complete visibility from intake to consumer. Next, Efficiency connects our customers to the products through the power of IoT, allowing them to maximise production efficiency, which reduces waste, increases uptime, promotes quality and ensures throughput. Finally, Ease of Service creates a 360-degree environment that guarantees our customers easy access to support and spare parts when required. Each of these principles ensure a safe, robust, sustainable and streamlined production environment for our customers. Less waste and higher efficiency ultimately maximises output and supports food security for all.
A MILESTONE FOR CIMBRIA
In 2016, Cimbria became a part of the AGCO Corporation. How has this acquisition affected Cimbria?
Cimbria has undergone several private equity funds acquisitions over the years and didn’t experience much investment in its New Product Development, leading to less desirable business progress. When AGCO took over in 2016, we saw a huge difference. The company focuses heavily on long-term business growth strategies and product development and optimisation to ultimately benefit customers worldwide.
These long-term goals are pushing Cimbria further than ever before, and we’ve seen a significant increase in our product and service offerings year on year. This growth increase means more customers are enjoying our innovative, forward-thinking seed, grain and food solutions across the globe. This year, we expect Cimbria will have a year of record sales, all thanks to our targeted sales strategy.
What are the recent success stories that you are proud of? What projects are you working on currently?
For me, success is achieved when customers choose Cimbria. Securing long-term partnerships with local and privately owned businesses and multinationals is the driving force behind our entire operations. Our highly qualified project department handles 100s of projects at various stages over the course of a year.
We’re currently working on multiple large port projects across Europe, Africa and the Middle East to secure food for millions of people every day. One of our largest project is the delivery of 23 grain silo plants in Egypt, with a combined storage capacity of 1.38 million tons. Silo locations will stretch from the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal all the way down to Aswan, covering over 1,000 kilometres.
A monumental project like this—along with many others—is humbling. I’m proud that we are establishing drying and storage facilities worldwide to help farmers, companies and customers reduce post-harvest loss. I’m also delighted to know our sustainable practices help increase arable land yield through the careful selection of high-quality seeds with desirable characteristics and gentle certified seed handling.
What distinguishes Cimbria from its competitors?
Cimbria leads the pack in so many ways. What separates us from our competitors is we’re a 360-degree one-stop-shop company capable of delivering and installing equipment, processes, solutions and services across various industries on time with exceptional quality. We develop and complete multi-million Euro projects with precision, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in mind, executed by 100s of our highly-skilled, multi-talented employees equipped with expert application and design capabilities.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your industry? What have been the recent changes and trends in your business since the pandemic began?
Surprisingly, the COVID pandemic didn’t impact Cimbria or the entire industry as severely as we thought it would. Of course, investments went on hold and business slowed down, but we survived relatively unscathed. Food security actually increased due to heightened hygiene awareness across the world.
I think the saving grace was our ability to adapt to the unfortunate circumstances and make positive changes to the business and how we operate internally. We embraced remote working and offered our employees more flexibility, which helped them navigate and soothe pandemic stress. Many of our employees continue working from home, and I believe it has boosted their efficiency and productivity. There’s really something to be said about a healthy work and life balance.
The Ukraine-Russia war has increased the volatility in the grain markets. How have the increased geopolitical risks affected your industry?
Even though the Ukraine-Russia war is still in its infancy, the industry has undoubtedly been affected due to both countries ceasing the import and export of goods and services. Certain regions such as Poland, the Czech Republic and the Middle East have increased production to counteract supply chain volatility and reduce food shortage pressures. We also see that businesses and multinationals are also moving their operations to other countries to prevent financial loss.
How do you see the grain processing, handling, and storage industry evolve in the future?
Despite the apparent global setbacks resulting from residual COVID aftereffects and the Ukraine-Russia war, the industry has a bright future ahead. I expect to see a sharper focus on flexibility, efficiency and production yield. And, with food safety now experiencing more global attention than ever before, we are ensuring approved food-grade solutions are integrated early in the value chain.
Which countries do you see as a potential new market for Cimbria?
We’ve worked hard to get Cimbria’s portfolio internationally recognised and present on a global scale. We’re currently looking to improve our standing and further penetrate Bangladesh, West Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Black Sea regions. Our other priority is expanding into the global food sector, offering our customers fully customised and digitalised smart solutions and services. These smart solutions and services maximise resource potential that allows better quality and less waste, leading to more capacity and helping us feed the world.
THE ‘RACE CAR’ PHILOSOPHY
Could you tell us about Cimbria’s future goals and expectations?
We’re always looking ahead to the future. I think it’s essential. Our goal is feeding the world safe, clean and high-quality grains, seeds and foods through our state-of-the-art processing equipment without compromise. We recently undertook a significant transformation and introduced what we like to call a “race car” philosophy that increases smart sales activity and provides digitalised solutions, improving the experience for all our customers worldwide.
The race car philosophy is essentially like leading a Formula 1 team to victory. Our salespeople—the race car drivers—are the ones in the spotlight, steering through the markets and directly improving our customers’ experiences through advanced digitised products and services.
However, pole position and winning the race isn’t down to one single person or entity. Behind the scenes, our pit crew, which includes salespeople, marketers, engineers and technicians, contributes to the winning result through robust customer-focused strategies. These strategies are the direct result of stringent product and service analysis supplemented by customer feedback. By listening to our customers and understanding the market better than ever before, we’re able to develop the best solutions for our customers and the world’s entire food supply chain, which is crucial given the current global climate.
Over the past two years, our race car drivers and pit crew members have boosted sales by 200%, which is significant and something we’re all incredibly proud of. We look to increase this number further over the next coming years by growing into the future. After all, the race is won every time our customers grow.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think it’s worth mentioning that Cimbria isn’t a “corner cutting” company. We don’t just simply produce, deliver and install our solutions. We believe in aftercare, which means supporting our customers and facilitating their growth as an entire comprehensive package in line with our Customer First approach shared across all AGCO brands.