The art of appealing to public taste

Published: 27-Oct-2023

“We’re convinced that new as well as existing business fields are best developed by independently operating companies, that can focus on specific industries and their applications,” says Torsten Wywiol, CEO of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe

“Interdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge transfer make it possible to use the synergies of the individual companies to the best advantage.”

The growth of the company group since its founding more than 40 years ago proves the success of this strategy.

What was a small firm with two employees and annual revenues of €1.4 million in 1980 is, today, one of the world’s leading food and feed ingredients corporations, with 12 special companies, 19 foreign subsidiaries, ten Stern-Technology Centers, and production locations in nine countries around the globe.

With just under 1950 employees, last year the Group made revenues topping €760 million. Revenues doubled during the last 10 years alone.

Among the Group’s sustainable growth drivers is its youngest member, Planteneers. Founded in 2020, this year Planteneers opened two new subsidiaries, in Aurora (IL, US) and in Maastricht in the Netherlands. 

The Stern-Technology Center in Ahrensburg, Germany plays a major role in the Group’s growth. There, around 170 R&D staff from the various subsidiaries work on the innovative solutions of tomorrow.

The art of appealing to public taste

When the Plant Based Competence Center was added to the Technology Center four years ago, all of the Group’s combined knowledge around plant-based foods was bundled in a dedicated creative pool.

Now comes the next addition: the new Taste Excellence Center where the focus is on the sensory evaluation of products.

Yes, there is accounting for tastes

Today, foods have to meet a wide range of demands. They must satisfy, support health and individual well-being, and meet environmental, climate, sustainability, and animal welfare criteria.

But most of all, they have to taste good. Even the best nutritional values and minimal CO2 footprints won’t save foods whose flavour and texture don’t appeal to consumers.

Dr Matthias Moser, Managing Director of the Food Ingredients Division of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe, explains: “Regular tastings and sensory evaluations are indispensable for top results, and have long been part of our product development."

"With the Taste Excellence Center we are taking this testing to a more objective level.” A trained sensory panel evaluates products using standardized processes. A sensory room with five cabins and modern equipment assists in the independent and objective assessment of the products."  

“We’ve done many seminars with customers,” notes Dr Moser. “This service will naturally continue with our Taste Excellence Center."

"For example, customers can use our sensory panel for products that aren’t going so well. If desired we can use the results to develop approaches for improving taste, texture, colour, and mouthfeel."

A nose for trends

Networked research and development and proximity to international markets are basic requirements for sustainable growth. Monitoring current trends is another.

And it’s not just about implementing current trends in demand-oriented products, but also being part of shaping future local and global trends. “Our teams are always looking for new things.

They research around the globe on innovative solutions for the challenges of our time and our customers,” notes Torsten Wywiol. “Our goal is to always be an idea ahead. That’s what has made us successful in the past, and it will help us play an active role in shaping the future of the food industry.”

The art of appealing to public taste

Rising food prices are an example. “People everywhere are worried about rising prices,” comments Dr Moser.

“The pandemic is showing its side effects, and the war in Ukraine and resulting supply bottlenecks are driving inflation rates around the world. Hydrosol supports the food industry with many different solutions in order to ensure continued sufficient food supplies at affordable prices in the future."

"We focus on replacing raw materials and developing economical recipes.”

Plant-based alternatives are not just a trend any longer – they are a fast-growing market. It is estimated that their market share will increase five-fold, from around 2% in 2020 to a good 10% in 2035.

Thanks to new technologies and intensive research and development, the number of new products is rising at a breathtaking pace. Planteneers is also seeing this.

“Alongside product innovations, new ingredients also offer growth potential, especially mycoproteins and cellular agriculture,” says Dr Moser.

“But new products can succeed only if their taste, texture, aroma, and appearance are appealing. And that’s exactly what we make sure of with the Taste Excellence Center.” 

You may also like