Bühler − a purpose-led company

In 2020, we completed our Destination25 strategy as our previous framework Bühler2020 came to its end. Taking the impacts of the pandemic into account, we took the chance to not only define our way forward in terms of markets, regions, and technologies, but also regarding our purpose. We felt that under these circumstances, we had to sharpen our “reason why.” After years of building up an industry-wide global ecosystem to address the impacts of climate change and the growing population, we have taken the next steps to focusing on the solutions to create impact. Destination25 is our pathway for creating real impact for a better world. We want to evolve our industries and ourselves such that every human being can enjoy a good life, and have access to affordable, healthy food, and clean mobility within the boundaries of our planet. 

With Destination25, we are putting every single aspect of our company into service toward this task. Our businesses have pledged to develop sustainable solutions that enable 50% less energy use, water consumption, and waste in our customers’ value chains. With innovative technologies, we design the food of the future with inherent sustainability. Our value services business will enable us to bring the current industry asset base to the next level of efficiency and productivity. By enhancing the skills and agility of our employees and customers, we empower our organization and partners for the upcoming extensive transformation. It is our ambition to be a “best company” by balancing the demands of nature and humanity with business needs. Not to be mistaken, we do not see ourselves as the best company, but with this concept have defined our true north. We invite all our partners to join this vision.


Expansion of innovation ecosystem

To this effect, we have further expanded our innovation ecosystem with two important initiatives. We have established a partnership with Givaudan, the global leader in flavors and fragrances, and have built an Innovation Center dedicated to plant-based foods in Singapore. 

The opening of the new facility was delayed due to the coronavirus and is now planned for March 2021. The new facility, located at Givaudan’s Woodlands site, will be run by the two companies, bringing together a pilot plant featuring Bühler extrusion and processing equipment and a kitchen and flavor laboratory by Givaudan. The facility will be supported by experts from both companies. The Innovation Center will welcome food processing companies, start-ups, and university researchers looking to develop novel plant-based food products. Second, Bühler and Big Idea Ventures have joined forces to accelerate the success journey of promising start-ups, creating great tasting alternatives to animal-derived protein products. Big Idea Ventures, a global venture capital fund, recently launched the New Protein Fund. The fund will invest in and accelerate up to 100 plant-based and cell-based companies globally. Big Idea Ventures runs four accelerator programs annually in New York and Singapore. Bühler and Big Idea Ventures will work together to build great companies responding to consumer demands for tasty food that is good for them and good for the planet. 


Innovation Challenge 160

To walk the talk ourselves, we kicked off another Innovation Challenge – our internal competition to ignite all Bühler employees to produce new business ideas. As 2020 has marked the 160th year of Bühler, we named the event Innovation Challenge 160 (IC160). The internal project was launched with the aim to find the most promising ideas that will help to reduce waste, energy, and water by 50% in our customers’ value chains.

The IC160 broke many records. More than 7,000 Bühler employees engaged and a total of 418 ideas were submitted from around the Bühler world. After a first level of screening, 103 idea teams pitched in front of regional juries in five virtual roadshows. Thirty-three ideas qualified for the voting and collaboration stage. Overall, 4,285 colleagues voted. Eight ideas were selected and moved to the acceleration stage. In November, the IC160 finals took place and the eight teams pitched in front of the Executive Board member jury. Six teams were granted the opportunity to implement their business ideas, among others, an energy-based recirculation model for paddy and pulse dryers, a new anti-reflective coating on photovoltaic glass, and a moisture and temperature control in a cooler for every feed mill. 


United we stand – people

Bühler continued to invest into its global network of schools, training, and excellence centers. The Bühler Cocoa Competence Center in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) was opened to support the region with R&D, training, and services and the aim to increase local processing of raw materials. With the same approach, Bühler established the International Rice Milling Academy (IRMA) at its site in Bangalore. IRMA offers the world’s first comprehensive Paddy to Rice Diploma course, a month-long course covering the full value chain from paddy to rice. Whereas these new competence hot spots focus on professional qualifications, we are aware that such skills only can flourish when embedded into personal capabilities. To foster our corporate culture in this respect, we have globally rolled out our new company values which are trust, ownership, and passion (TOP). Two strong examples how we at Bühler aim to live these values were given by our local team in Beirut, Lebanon, who went the extra mile to secure the food supply chain in the country after a major explosion at the capital’s port in August. The second example is our apprentices in Switzerland, who won eight medals in four categories in the 2020 SwissSkills championships. 

2020 was also marked by a change in leadership in Human Resources. Dipak Mane handed over the Executive Board function of Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) to Irene Mark-Eisenring. Dipak Mane has significantly contributed to increasing the market leadership position of Bühler over the past decades, holding leadership roles at Bühler since 1992. As a successful business unit manager building up the business for Bühler in India, he was instrumental in creating a leading position for Bühler in the market for rice processing technologies, among others. In 2015, Dipak Mane assumed the function of CHRO and Member of the Executive Board. He successfully shaped Bühler’s global human resources strategy over many years and collaborated closely with Irene Mark-Eisenring so she could take over as his successor in September 2020. He is now pursuing other important management tasks within the organization, supporting the Executive Board (learn more in our ‘United we stand’ section).

Irene Mark-Eisenring joined Bühler in 2016 as Head of Corporate Personnel Development. She has been responsible for setting and implementing strategies in the fields of global human resources (HR) development, HR marketing and employer branding, talent and performance management, strategic recruiting, and Diversity & Inclusion. Irene Mark-Eisenring has a broad human resources background, with a 20-year record of accomplishment of managing HR projects and holding leading HR roles, primarily in the financial industry.

We are extremely happy to have found Irene Mark-Eisenring as an experienced leader and human resources expert for this key function. She is the right personality to shape the future of our work for, and with, our people for the next phase of our company.


Outlook: bounded optimism

Still being in the midst of the pandemic, we do not expect a fast recovery of markets and a quick return to normal. In fact, we see a “new normal” arising with far more digital applications, virtual communication, and remote solutions. In our view, the pandemic not only sped up digitalization but also the trends towards a bipolar world with the two centers of power being China and the United States.  

The new Asian agreement Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which reflects a third of global trade is a strong step into this direction. Other important trends which affect our business is the increasing demand of sustainable solutions, be it by CO2 reduced emissions, nutritious and healthy food, or clean mobility. 

We are convinced that Bühler is very well positioned even in this volatile market environment. To gain even more flexibility and agility, we are continuing to work on our business excellence, among others by starting the migration of our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems onto SAP S/4HANA within the next years. For 2021, we expect our business volume and profitability to stay stable. We are now laying ground to return to profitable growth. 


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