Grains & Food: strong performance  

For Grains & Food, 2021 was a very good year with a strong recovery. The segment grew its order intake by 12.2% to CHF 1.8 billion, coming close to pre-corona levels and had a stable turnover of CHF 1.7 billion. All business areas of Grains & Food contributed to this positive development. Regionally, the upturn was strongest in the northern hemisphere. Regarding innovative solutions, all businesses report important milestones, be it with new orders (insect processing), start-of-operations (Mill E3/SmartMill), or market launches (Optical Sorting, Rimomalt). New strong partners add to Grains & Food’s innovation ecosystem and the joint venture with Premier Tech has proven to be an enormous success.    

In the Grain Quality & Supply business area, all units recorded good business development. The Grain Handling business area benefited from a reshaping of the global grain value chains which lead to huge investments into the build-up of a new infrastructure in China. In this context, Grain Quality & Supply won large orders for ship loaders at the Yangtze River. The Malting & Brewing business unit continued to secure important orders. With our new Belgian technology partner Vyncke we are now able to provide integrated solutions for low carbon food plants by transforming biomass by-products into clean energy. One of the first implementations was for a new malting plant for our customer Malteria Oriental S.A. in Montevideo, Uruguay.  

The Grain Quality & Supply rice business was still impacted by lockdowns in Southeast Asia due to the pandemic. However, one highlight was the assignment for a large rice mill in Bangladesh with a production capacity of 40 tons per hour. Regarding innovations, Grain Quality & Supply launched Rimomalt, a new solution for small- to midsize malting plants with a capacity range from 1,000 to 17,000 tons, a modular and expandable layout, small space requirements, short installation times, and high efficiency. The market reaction was positive and the first projects are in progress.  

Within Grains & Food, the Milling Solutions business unit saw the strongest growth with a 18% higher order intake. This upward trend was very much driven by oats solutions, which doubled volumes, but also fueled by pulse applications and the traditional milling business for wheat and rye. A highlight of the year was the start-of-operation of the first Mill E3 of our customer Whitworth Bros. Ltd. in the United Kingdom. Mill E3 is a revolutionary concept to build a mill, saving around 30% of building volume, 10% of energy, and 30% of installation time. The background of these achievements is a new, integrated, innovative arrangement concept, and modular design of key components such as the Arrius fully integrated grinding system. Around three years ago the Mill E3 concept was publicly announced; now this vision has become reality. At the heart of the Mill E3 are more than 15,000 data points collecting information on all aspects of the production process. It is the volume of data being analyzed, along with the cutting-edge application of blockchain technology, that enable the most efficient, transparent, and consistent production possible, and therefore the highest quality product. In its first month of operation, Mill E3 confirmed all predictions about the values this new concept will bring for our milling customers. With this, the journey towards a fully digitalized milling future has just begun.  

Our Value Nutrition business area continued the protein success story in all aspects. In the past, our feed business was growing mostly in China. Yet we managed to position our leading feed solutions also much stronger in other important regions, for instance in South America and India. Our Human Nutrition business unit launched PolyCool 1000, a high-performance cooling die that, together with an extruder, provides an efficient and flexible solution for food producers creating tasty and sustainable plant-based meat or fish alternatives at highest available capacities. With the PolyCool 1000 it is possible to produce wet-textured proteins based on a wide range of raw materials including soy, pulses, oilseeds, upcycled by-products such as brewers’ spent grains, as well as newer ingredients such as microalgae, at high-capacity rates with throughputs of up to 1 ton per hour. With this, Bühler is the clear technology leader in this fast-growing food market. The inauguration of the Technology Center Proteins of the Future to further develop extruded meat substitutes together with the DIL (Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik) underpins this position. With this latest addition we are operating 10 such facilities around the world and can ensure maximum proximity to our customers. 

For the insect protein business, we achieved a breakthrough with the first order for a large-scale insect plant from the French biotech company Agronutris. The 16,000 square meter insect plant in Rethel, France, will be ready to operate in the first quarter of 2023. When operating at full capacity, the facility will process up to 70,000 tons of organic residues for the aquaculture and pet food markets every year. With this milestone, we are a key solution provider for the insect industry and increase the inclusion of insect proteins in animal feed, thus contributing to more sustainable feed supply chains. 

Our Digital Technologies business area experienced challenging market conditions. A key factor to secure competitiveness was the launch of new products from our facilities in China. Now we are offering a full range product portfolio specially optimized for applications in Asia and Africa from China. We are also proud that the product quality and sorting performance of this new generation was very well received.  

To strengthen our market position in optical sorting even more, Digital Technologies has developed the next generation of “engines” for sorting technologies. This engine, or “brain” of the machines, is a combination of electronic hardware and software. The first products equipped with this revolutionary “brain” were launched on the market. This new generation marks a breakthrough in flexibility and reliability to sort different raw materials at the highest speed and at the highest sorting quality with a very intuitive and easy user interface. The new Bühler sorters will not only reject conventional defects such as discolored or broken grains, but also mycotoxins, alkaloids, and allergen free material. It encompasses the sorting algorithms for color detection, defect sizing, self-learning, tracking, calibration, and defect removal. At the same time, we now offer full connectivity to our digital cloud platform Bühler Insights with all enabling services, increasing usability. With the new generation, optical sorting is reaching a next level to cater to the increased complexity and requirements from the markets.  

Regarding partnerships, the joint venture with Premier Tech for fully-automated packaging solutions turned out to be a remarkable success. The first machines from the joint venture were delivered at the beginning of the year. Together, we are now leading the trend to fully-automated solutions with a cost-efficient and productive portfolio. 

Content Block

Do you have a question? Contact our Media Relations team.

Gupfenstrasse 5