Fiske becomes Univar - and a specialist industry expert

Related tags Industry

Ingredients distributor Fiske is changing its name to Univar Food
Ingredients to draw on the brand recognition of its parent company,
and is taking on industry experts so it can provide more technical,
marketing and product development advice to customers.

Univar is one of the biggest distributors serving the broad chemicals sector, with some 250,000 customers and activities in 30 different industries. To the food, beverage and nutrition market, its offering is a comprehensive A to Z, including flavours, colour, preservatives, emulsifiers, enzymes, enzymes, acidulants, functional starches, sweeteners, hydrocolloids and more. But it has now identified five industries in which it is positioning to become a specialist: food, personal care, coatings, pharmaceuticals and energy. The key to doing this, business director for Univar Europe Roger Chantillon told, is to bring on board industry specialists who can liaise with customers about their technical, marketing and product development needs. "Suppliers are more and more focused on innovation,"​ he said. They do also dedicate resources to needing customer's specific requirements - especially as food manufacturers look to them to conduct some R&D on their behalf - but usually this attention is focused on the multinational, A-list clients. This means that the B and C clients, large national and small players respectively, do not tend to have the same level of attention lavished upon them. The path is therefore clear for the distributor to step up to ensure the products it represents can be sold in the right way to these customers, stressing the added-value attributes, and formulation and application benefits. Suppliers to the food industry which Univar represents include the likes of Novozymes, National Starch and Fonterra. Pursuant to the new strategy, and as more customers come to appreciate its consultative package, Univar expects to be able to grow its supplier base. This, in turn, will allow it to grow the store of ingredients it can offer to the industry. The distributor is bringing in this strategic sea-change at the same time as the name change for its food ingredients operation following the results of a market survey. It found that while Fiske, the old name, enjoyed good recognition, customers did not realise it was associated with Univar. While Fiske was a European player before, active in 17 countries, Chantillon said that in some countries it had strong activities and in others not so strong. The aim now is offer the same level of service across all countries. "We can get the right sales tools from the supplier and translate this knowledge for a specific region." ​ While he did not want to reveal what proportion of the 250,000 customers are active in food, or how much of the annual net sales of $6.6bn come from this industry, Chantillon did say that food has been identified as one of the main areas in which Univar has the scope to gain more profitability. While the rebranding represents the foundations of this, Univar is presently finalising its strategic plan. Chantillon said that some of the team of industry experts will be in place over the next month, prior to FIE. He expects to have the recruitment round completed within half- to two-thirds of a year. Univar's customer survey also threw up some other important trends for the food market, such as clean label needs, fortification, and healthy foods. Quality assurance is of paramount importance, now more than ever in the light of safety concerns of products originating in China. Chantillon said that the plays a great deal on quality of delivery. Its U+ guarantee underscores sourcing across the whole product range, communicating principals such as a consistent, solid supply chain, quality, health and the environment. These relate not only to China and other Eastern countries like Thailand, but also New Zealand and ingredients sources from Europe. "For Univar [quality assurance] only an option when it comes from a known, high quality source,"​ said Chantillon. "Univar has been very careful in selecting its supplier base".

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