The Bühler Group was prominently on display at the IDMA Exhibition in Istanbul. True to its motto "one step ahead in processing grains to food" Bühler presented innovative process solutions, services and various new or improved machinery to the technical public. CEO of Bühler, Calvin Grieder, answered our questions about the trade show, the Turkish market, the latest trends and technologies, and Bühler’s position in the industry.
Every day, billions of people use Bühler technologies to satisfy their basic needs for food, mobility, or communication. With its industrial process technologies and solutions, the company makes a significant contribution to feeding the world’s population while focusing on food safety and security. Around 65% of the wheat harvested worldwide is processed into flour on Bühler mills. The company’s contribution to the global production and processing of rice, pasta, chocolate, and breakfast cereals is equally substantial.
At the IDMA Exhibition, Bühler’s Grain Milling business area was showcasing the entire range of its expertise. At the booth the company presented quite a selection of innovative process solutions, services and machinery. During the first exhibition day, Calvin Grieder, CEO of Bühler, was hosting visitors from around the world. In between the meet and greet, our magazine had the chance to interview the energetic businessman face to face, and talk to him about the current market situation and Bühler’s plans for the future.
Mr. Grieder, this is Bühler’s second time exhibiting at the IDMA. Could you please tell us the reason for Bühler to attend the IDMA?
With its around 80 million inhabitants, Turkey is a large food market, which grows and develops further every year. Bühler has been in the Turkish market for years, and it is an important market for us, not only in the food processing area. Additionally we take competition notably from Turkey seriously and want to position our unique portfolio of process solutions, services and machinery in this environment so that customers could experience the difference.
IDMA Exhibition claims that it is the only international technology fair in the grain and pulses processing industry. What was your first impression when you stepped inside the exhibition area? From your impression, can you say that IDMA is an international trade show?
Spontaneously I just felt that the set-up has been done in a very professional way. This is the first day of the exhibition and although I have not been here for a long time, I’ve already met customers from many countries, especially from the Middle East and Africa. So I have already seen a lot of different nationalities at the show, and I hope I will see many more. Thus, I would say this is not a Turkish show, but a well-attended international trade fair.
It is obvious that Bühler made a great effort with its booth. What is the booth concept, and the message you want to deliver to the visitors?
We are a globally operating Swiss enterprise which serves as the sole solution provider to our industry with a fully integrated portfolio of process know-how, engineering, machinery and services, including training and education. With this offering we can ensure our customers the best return on their investment and highest product quality. These are the key messages we want to bring across. To communicate this on a trade show, we came up with a very modular booth concept which reflects all aspects of our business.
Could you please tell us more about the innovations you exhibit here?
It’s all about efficiency, quality and food safety. Take our new roller mill Antares Plus which we launched here at the show. With integrated measurement of and control over particle size distribution, this new mill delivers a constant optimum grinding effect while simultaneously reducing energy consumption. Such a high level of automation has never been seen before in grain processing. Besides this we showed a newly developed destoner, an innovative plansifter, a color sorter, or the latest generation of moisture control and water proportioning units. On display were furthermore an automatic bagging line, Bühler’s new impact machine and three measuring systems for continuous particle size measurement, and analyzing the flour quality in the running process.
So how about research and development? Where does Bühler set its focus?
As a leading technology group, Bühler invests up to 5% of its turnover in research and development every year. Approximately half of our sales revenues are generated by products that are less than five years old. We do research in a lot of different areas, constantly looking for optimization and innovation. The world’s need for food increases every day, but sources do not increase in the same pace. That’s why we focus on safe and traceable food processes and reducing food waste. Also, we want to increase the nutritional value of food to provide solutions for the existing and future challenges in nutrition and health. Innovations for sustainability are very important for us; as a family-owned company Bühler feels particularly committed to sustainable solutions. Then, of course, digitalization, machine intelligence, automation and integrated concepts are major topics as well. We strive to gain full control over products, processes and machinery in order to regulate and optimize the process flow – and in the end the output/end product – in the best possible way. Equally important nowadays is energy efficiency. We launch a lot of innovations to reduce the energy consumption of our machines. As you can see, we are constantly working in various fields of innovations to allow customers to always be one step ahead in the market place.
Bühler is an important player in the milling industry. What is Bühler’s share in this market throughout the world?
Bühler has been a milling company almost from the company’s start-up. This is still one of our core competencies and accounts for about one third of our business. Based on this we have successfully managed to develop into adjacent markets and applications, supporting our customers in expanding and taking their business to the next level. For example, some millers also go into the feed business. Others grew into pasta or bakery business, which we also supply. Our strategy is to look at the whole food processing area and supply chain. With this being said, you realize that it is quite difficult to talk about Bühler’s global market share, because it really depends which markets you take into consideration. However, if we are talking about all the food processes including milling, we can say that Bühler is a market leader.
Mr. Grieder, at the beginning of the interview you emphasized the importance of the Turkish market. Could you give us more details about your perception of the Turkish market, and about the future plans you would like to realize in Turkey?
The Turkish market has a lot of potential. Turkish entrepreneurs are very open and forward-looking; they invest in export and expand into the world. The Turkish customers are very dynamic and keen on innovations and improved solutions. Therefore, it is important that we can show them our comprehensive portfolio right here. I see Turkey as a hub for developing modern food processes around the world. For Bühler, Turkey is a base that can be taken further. We are currently developing our market here, especially with the service stations we have installed. We want to service our customers even quicker and better, true to our motto “in the region for the region”.
The strategic location of Turkey is very interesting for a foreign investor. A lot of companies think about Turkey as a base for reaching Asian, European and Middle Eastern markets. Does Bühler have any plans like this?
Today, our office in Turkey is already our center for the Middle East and Africa. We have developed and expanded our worldwide market presence over the past 150 years and I must say we are happy and confident; we are very well established around the world, as a result of our long-term experience, our reliable services, and of course our high quality. We have not only efficient production sites in Europe, but also in Asia, India, South Africa and South America. We are not focusing on one market only, but rather investing in all the market areas we are doing business in. So you will see us developing the regional markets more actively, pushing our local business, our local expertise, engineering, production and services.
Will we see Bühler again at the IDMA in 2017?
From today’s perspective: yes. Bühler is a very solid company, a century and a half in business. We have a great customer base; we have a very committed and skilled workforce around the world; and we are financially very stable. Of course, we have to work hard every single day to remain at the top of our industry.
Is there something else you would like to add?
I wish IDMA Exhibition a lot of success. I think this exhibition is well-placed, because there are a lot of activities between Europe and Asia and the IDMA can link them. There are big trade shows in Europe and Asia, but IDMA is right between them. This is like the old Silk Road, a path from Asia to Europe. I think IDMA has the potential to become a hub for these important and interesting markets.
We would like to thank Mr. Calvin GRIEDER, CEO of Bühler AG, for sparing time for us and answering our questions.