Danish ingredients company Palsgaard is celebrating 100 years since its founder, Einar Schou, invented the first fully controllable emulsifier, paving the way for what is now a $4 billion industry in the food segment alone. And Palsgaard has good reason to celebrate: alongside the centenary, it’s recently achieved carbon neutrality across the whole of its business in Mexico and is on track to record the same achievement in the Netherlands.
Not traditionally acquisitions-heavy, the company also took a majority stake in Brazilian emulsifier company Candon at the start of the year, expanding its reach at an exciting time.
So FoodBev caught up with Palsgaard CEO Jakob Thoisen to talk about the latest achievements, and get a sense of what lies in store.
It’s only a couple of months since Palsgaard celebrated going CO2-neutral in Mexico; how significant a milestone is that?
It is a very significant milestone, as it shows our commitment to the environmental challenges of the world, and further to that it’s a major achievement as we are the first industrial company in Mexico obtaining CO2 neutrality.
How much progress have you made towards making your other plants CO2-neutral?
In the Netherlands, we are completely on track according to our time schedule, so within a number of months we expect to reach our goal. With Malaysia it’s all a bit more complex, as the infrastructure with regards to green energy is not yet as developed as in Denmark and Mexico. But we have a number of initiatives in the pipeline and we are confident that we will reach the goal of CO2-neutrality by 2020.
There’s an assumption that growing economies like Malaysia and Mexico are less concerned about sustainability. How receptive have your local partners been towards your efforts?
I must say that our achievements in Mexico and our efforts in Malaysia are being very well received by both the public institutions and by our clients and other stakeholders. Caring about the environment is appreciated and high on the agenda in many countries around the world, as well as by consumers.
In Mexico, you achieved CO2-neutrality with the help of carbon off-sets. Are there any plans to pursue renewable gas and electricity more proactively, so that you can replace the carbon off-sets?
It is definitely our aim to do so: in Mexico 95% of our electricity consumption is covered by our own solar panels, and it is our aim to limit the carbon off-sets to an absolute minimum. Therefore, we are continuously exploring various opportunities to do so.
You’re expecting revenues to double over the next five years – where’s that growth coming from?
We see an increasing demand for our food ingredients worldwide and we firmly believe that the functionality we deliver, combined with the fact that we can produce our products based on segregated palm in Denmark and at the same time CO2-neutral, is in high demand – particularly in Europe, but also elsewhere in the world like the US and South America.
Furthermore, we are intensifying our presence in Africa, and we believe this continent will offer significant growth in the future.
Finally, we see a large demand for our vegetable-based polymer additives. They offer a green alternative to petrochemical-based additives, something which is highly demanded by the polymer industry.
And presumably, after the deal for Candon in Brazil, acquisitions could still play a role?
I think that would be a natural conclusion…
What sort of companies are you looking for in those acquisitions?
For sure food ingredients companies which have a strategic fit with Palsgaard could be targets, whether it would be emulsifiers, stabilisers or a combination would completely depend on the company in question and the conditions around a possible deal.
You’re targeting carbon-neutrality by 2020, revenue growth by 2022… what’s the plan after that?
At this point we have plenty of projects in the pipeline, but of course growth in a responsible way, both within food and polymer ingredients, will continue to be high on the agenda.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020