Consumer foods drive growth at Bühler
Bühler’s Consumer Foods segment played a key role in the group delivering good performance in 2019.
The food and feed markets showed continued demand – specifically, plant-based proteins for meat alternatives and malting experienced strong upswings.
“The new Consumer Foods segment clearly outperformed our expectations,” said chief financial officer Mark Macus.
Orders for Grains & Food continued to grow at CHF 1.8 billion (+5.2 %), for Consumer Foods to CHF 775 million (-1.7 %), and Advanced Materials had to absorb a decline of 32.2 % in order intake to CHF 488 million. Turnover for Grains & Food demonstrated robustness at CHF 1.8 billion (+0.9 %) and Consumer Foods was able to grow its turnover by 2.5% to CHF 774 million.
Group turnover was stable at CHF 3.3 billion while order intake decreased by 4.6% to CHF 3.1 billion.
Bühler increased its investments into innovation to a record high, and its financial position remained strong.
The broad regional footprint of Bühler with its operations in around 140 countries, nearly 100 service stations, and more than 30 manufacturing sites also supported the balancing of market variability. While Asia and Europe drove growth in the past year, in 2019 North America and Middle East & Africa took over this role.
For the first time in years, Bühler recorded a standstill in China due to market saturation in markets outside food such as the automotive segment and tariff conflicts. Regardless, the company said its geographic performance remains balanced: with regard to turnover, Asia makes up 34%, Europe 30%, Americas 22%, and Middle East & Africa 14%.
Structurally, the company was able to further improve the breadth of its portfolio in 2019. The long-cycle plant and project business now accounts for 70% of turnover, while the short-cycle Customer Services and Single Machine Business saw a total turnover of CHF 979 million, representing a 30% share of total Group turnover.
In 2019, Bühler elevated its innovation capabilities with the opening of its CUBIC innovation campus and new application centers, by increasing R&D spending to a record high of CHF 149 million and developing new partnerships, such as with the Future Food Initiative and World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The company launched more than 20 new solutions, with many in the area of digital applications. About 25% of the overall innovation spend focused on digital applications.
With these innovations, Bühler aims to significantly decrease the ecological footprint of its industries.
“We want to bring a 50% reduction in energy use, water consumption, and waste by 2025 in the value chains of our food, feed, and mobility customers,” chief technology officer Ian Roberts said.