Intro: Food Marketing and Technology Magazine had an interaction with Ajith Dharan, Head of Consumer Foods – BühlerIndia. He talks about various businesses Bühler operates and how their solutions impact so many people globally. He highlights company’s commitment on sustainability.  

1. How has been your journey in Bühler and what is your area of responsibility?

I have been working with Bühler India since 2015. I have handled various businesses within the company, and since 2019,lead the Consumer Foods and Human Nutrition business for South Asia. This journey has been very exciting, and we strive to create innovations for a better world, with a special focus on healthy, safe, and sustainable solutions.

2. What are Bühler’s businesses?

Founded in 1860, Bühler is a Swiss family-ownedcompany and the world leader offering technology solutions in businesses we operate. We have three business pillars: Grains & Food solutions ensure safe and healthy food and feed; Consumer Foods solutions create culinary delights;Advanced Materials contribute to the production of energy-efficient vehicles and buildings.

Two billion people each day enjoy foods produced on Bühler equipment; and one billion people travel in vehicles manufactured with parts produced with our machinery. Having this global relevance, we are in a unique position to turn today’s global challenges into sustainable and good business.Our technologies are in your smartphone, solar panels, diapers, lipstick, banknotes, the foods you eat, and the vehicles you drive.

We are present in more than 140 countries and our philosophy is ‘in the region, for the region’. Our sales and service stations across countries help us being close to our customers and offer support in the shortest time.

3. Could you tell us how Bühler businesses have fared in India?

Bühler started operations in India in 1992 with a sales office in Bengaluru. Our operations have grown over the years, and we now have the fourth largest manufacturing plant in Bühler. Our South Asia headquarters is in Bengaluru, and we have sales and service stations across the country.

Bühler India is one of the leading players in Flour Milling, Speciality Milling, Pulses, Rice, Sortex products, Animal & Aqua Feed, Chocolate, Confectionery, Breakfast Cereals, Pasta, and Noodles. With the acquisition of HAAS, we now have solutions for Biscuits & Wafer category. We are in a unique position to offer solutions from ‘Grain to Biscuits’ and work closely with all leading corporations and entrepreneur driven family-owned companies offering our technology solutions.

4. What are the developments in the food technology sector? Are Indian companies ready to invest in new and upgraded technologies?

Bühler’svision isInnovations for a better world. We invest 5% of our revenue into research and development, enabling us to bring new technologies and solutions to the market. With our innovations we want to create impact and contribute to a better, more sustainable world.

Indian companies continue to search and invest in new technologies and are no different from their global counterparts. They areequally agile in adapting to new technologies.Investment in digitalisation and automation has increased by leaps and bounds in the last few years, with COVID-19 only accelerating this process.

Bühler India plays a leading role in developing solutions for the Indian market – the PesaMill™ for stone-free atta grinding, coffee roasters, pulses & rice milling solutions. All these solutions are well accepted in the market.

5. Your thoughts on the rise of bakery industry in India.

India is the largest producer of biscuits in the world. Bakery products suit the fast-moving consumer lifestyle. It is one of the cheapest food products you can grab that is relatively healthy and hygienic. With availability of technologies and better skill sets, there is variety of quality products available. With rising disposable income and exposure to foreign destinations, consumers are aspirational and want to try new products.

6. How is global inflation going to impact Bühler’s revenue forecast for 2022?

Everybody’s life has been impacted due to inflation, be it machinery or food manufacturers or common man like you and me. Since COVID-19, there has been a major rise in costs for logistics, steel and other process chainsthat have impacted all manufacturers – equipment producers and food product companies. Customers understand the supply chain economics and are continuing with their investment.Now in 2022,we are finally able to see a positive impact on ourtop line growth.

7. Your thoughts on plant-based protein

By 2050, the global population is estimated to touch 10 billion. To meet this extra demand, we need an extra 270 million tons of proteins. Finding new protein sources is a must and Bühler is leading the way in developing sustainable alternatives through texturized vegetable proteins from pulses and soya.

Consumption of plant-based proteins is not new in India. We have been consuming lentils, soya as part of our daily food for centuries. The challenge is to develop plant-based proteins mimicking the texture and taste of meat, while still making it attractive enough for the Indian palette.

We are extremely excited about the growth of plant-based proteins in India. We are commissioning the first High Moisture Meat Analogue (HMMA) line in India, and this will be a game changer for the industry. We work closely with GFI, PBFIA and other industry bodies to promote plant-based proteins in India. The market estimates for dry and wet plant-based proteins for 2030 is 3 billion USD for domestic and export market together. Bühler is well positioned to take the lead with solutions for Dry Extrusion and High Moisture Meat Analogues.