Speaking yesterday at the official launch of the its largest dairy cultures plant, situated in Hoersholm, Denmark, Chr Hansen claimed that enhancing its domestic culture production would be the best way to meet surging export demand amongst processors.
Company chief executive officer Lars Frederiksen told DairyReporter.com that while the company has production sites around the world, the new €50m Danish cultures plant, the largest single investment made by the group, would meet the increasing needs of processors to add value to their dairy goods worldwide.
The company said that extending its operations at its headquarters was not a marketing ploy though, and offered the most effective means of producing culture for manufacturers to be used around the world.
While production plants could be established in key emerging markets for their cultures, carrying through the expertise to efficiently and hygienically produce the products was a huge challenge, the company claimed.
Despite issues related to customs, ChrHansen said that under dry ice, it was confident in could deliver the strains across its global network under dry ice within the 72 hour limit for transportation.
Frederiksen said that sales of its dairy culture products had risen annually by between 15 and 20 per cent, an upward trend he added, which was driven by demand for nutritious products not just in emerging markets, but the US and Western Europe as well.
“Ten years ago, yoghurt were simply seen as yoghurts,” he stated. “ However, the cultures’ potential for immune stimulation benefits in these products, as well as infant nutrition, has become massive business.”
According to the company’s own estimates, its dairy cultures business now represents around two-thirds of Chr Hansen’s overall business.
Frederiksen suggested that the plant itself had been planned for between six to seven years as a means of keeping up with its customer’s culture needs, though amendments to its existing operations had exceeded these supposed limitations.
He claimed that small investments in the company’s cleaning operations and other production apparatus has allowed the company to step up efficiency in its ability to handle culture production.
Knud Vindfeldt, Chr. Hansen executive vice president for cultures & enzymes claimed that the new site would offer a longer-term means of staying in touch with demand, accounting for twenty per cent of global production at current capacity.
While touring the complex during the launch, Vindfeldt said that the plant had been designed to allow for possible further expansion and could foreseeably double existing capacity again should the market so require.
He claimed that aside from just stepping up capacity in its culture operations, the cultures line was able to ensure greater efficiency in larger scale culture production, as dictated by a number of the group’s customers.
Vindfeldt said that performing such a task to allow so-called ‘good bacteria’, vital in preserving texture in dairy goods, required specific knowledge and technical expertise.
“The difficulty is, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria tend to flourish under the same conditions,” he stated. “This has led us to use a closed system at the site in order to better prevent contamination from unwanted strains.”
The company claimed that it also used steaming of its pipes and caustics within its operations in a bid to ensure hygienic production not reliant on chemicals that may negatively affect production.
Vindfeldt said that there remained many difficulties when dealing with cultures, due to their bacterial nature, in finding innovative product that were in line with stringent health regulations.
“When dealing with cultures, processors often need innovation, though at the same time must be careful no to turn to products that may come across as being too extravagant in certain product formulations,” he stated.
Gathered among company executives at the site, a number of Chr. Hansen’s regional executives were optimistic over the site's impact on their more localised operations.
With the group looking to meet the needs of dairy groups across emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe, company representatives for both markets said the site would help alleviate a number of their expansion concerns.
In Asia for instance, a spokesperson for the group’s operations there said that concerns over supplying cultures to the market amidst potential seasonal bottlenecks in milk production would be alleviated with strong forward planning.
Chr. Hansen claimed that a continued drive into Eastern Europe, particularly for newer markets like Romania, would also benefit from the plant by not relying on having to transport worker knowledge and experience.
DairyReporter.com journalist Neil Merrett was present at the site opening. His trip was partly funded by Chr Hansen.