Euroduna: Quality services support a growing global business
An eFeedLink Exclusive
An interview with Jan Dubbeldam, co-founder of Euroduna
Founded in 1991 by Nils Dubbeldam, who worked with Unilever in the field of oils, fats and soya, Euroduna started out in a humble 35 square metre office in the north of Hamburg, Germany, before emerging into a major corporation consisting of pioneer company Euroduna Rohstoffe GmbH, and later, Euroduna Food Ingredients GmbH and Euroduna Technologies GmbH.
Today, the ingredient distribution company operates in most Asian countries, including companies set up in the Philippines and Thailand, as well as developing its network in Central Asia. While much work lies ahead to increase Euroduna's international presence, it is not in a hurry about breaking ground, preferring instead to wait till a new market is ripe for its purpose.
The co-founder of Euroduna talks to FEED Business Worldwide about the formative years of the group, its prudent style of engaging its customers, and current and future plans for global operations and expansion.
FBW: Please tell us about Euroduna Group's early days and its progress in the years that followed.
Soya specialties play a particular role at Euroduna. The original method for producing soya protein concentrate was developed by Unilever. The products were developed for use in the food sector. At that time, nobody had animal feed in mind.
However, in Nils Dubbeldam, Unilever had found the right man to develop and expand this business. At that time, a yearly production of about 30,000 tonnes passed through his hands. It also started with distribution of the soya protein concentrate, Soycomil, at Euroduna Rohstoffe in 1991. The cooperation continued for ten years up to 2001. Before long, Euroduna was able to build its first office building in 1995, expanding it in 1998.
Euroduna Technologies GmbH was set up more than 10 years ago to act as a global distributor for animal and vegetable-based ingredients for the pet food industry. The company also coordinates corporate activities in animal proteins.
What are the strengths of Euroduna that have helped to earn its reputation as one of the largest specialty feed ingredient suppliers in Europe?
Euroduna has developed a comprehensive product programme for feed raw materials and maintains an extensive network of background information and producer contacts for all vegetable proteins and milk products as well as most amino acids, starches and sugars, several additives and a few specialties.
Our main strength is that we can keep a neutral position between supplier and consumer of the ingredients. We are not compelled to sell at any price and employ all argumentation provided by producers. We also have our own technical department and with Nils Dubbeldam's experience of over 50 years, we do our utmost to only deliver technical information that has proven to be in line with our own understanding.
Hence, after 25 operational years, our customers have faith in the fact that our argumentation is based on our best knowledge which is not influenced by the drive to boost sales volumes. We have to explain this directive to new employees, because, from their former jobs, they were taught that being able to sell at any price is the most important policy.
In fact, many of our competitors are forced to sell, because they urge their sales team to generate turnover. However, we want to maintain our customers' trust now, tomorrow and in the far future.
Hence, right from the start, new employees learn that we refuse orders on some occasions when we feel that it is not the right moment for the buyer or the seller.
In addition, our product knowledge and market experience is like a library, and many customers call us to talk about products that we do not carry in our portfolio, with confidence that we will share our opinion regarding characteristics, availability, price development and, especially, functionality.
Generally, the global feed and livestock industry did not perform well last year, with falling prices of feed grains dragging down feed markets worldwide. How has Euroduna worked with your feed mill customers to improve their profit margins?
We are intensively supporting our partners in the feed industry to find incentive formulations that keep them away from pure price competition. With new ingredients, new additives and global transparency, we try to help our customers stay ahead of the market.
Poor feed prices have been a chronic situation that Europe has been facing for 20 years. But the issue is not the short-term effect of falling prices on ingredient markets. Rather, it's the long-term challenge that the feed prices are under pressure and food consumers are not willing to pay higher prices for their food.
The world's awareness about the risk of feeding antibiotics as growth promotors to livestock actually offers good opportunities to launch new feeds. In 1993, a German company completely abandoned antibiotics from its feed, and since around 2004 to 2005, it has become a well-recognised market leader for antibiotic-free feed.
What market opportunities do you see for feed macro-ingredients as against feed micro-ingredients globally?
It is our philosophy that micro-ingredients can only support or optimise the function of macro-ingredients. The better the macro-ingredients, the lower the additional impact of micro-ingredients. In some regions in Asia, it is common to use large amounts of micro-ingredients against Salmonella, E-coli and PEDV, but wouldn't it be better to eliminate the risk of such infections by a more stringent quality control of the macro-ingredients? As an analogy, if somebody today is suffering from a disease, we should be asking about the origins of the disease and not whether if we could be selling more medicine to him.
What developments did Euroduna see in Asia during the last three years?
Our company has witnessed a substantial growth in some high-growth countries where we have an existing business. We recorded new sales highs in the first half year of 2015, which proved that we are on the right track.
We learn that Euroduna has set up companies in the US, the Philippines and Thailand. Please describe your presence in these countries.
In Thailand and the Philippines, we have expanded our operations and achieved significant turnovers. The Euroduna offices there are expected to maintain high levels of support of, and communication and trustworthiness with our customers.
In the US, we were approached by a long-time contact with good market insights, and so decided to set up a local company to work in a similar way like the European office. This is also in regard to the upcoming TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).
Our offices provide useful information to our headquarters and act as scouts for ingredients that we may export to Europe.
Please tell us more about Euroduna's plans to engage international markets in the coming years, as well as strengthening its position as a global leader in specialty feed ingredients.
Our main target is to convince our existing partners that they can rely on us 24/7. The secondary target is to start working and exploring new areas in the Middle East and South America.
It is our philosophy not to relax following a previous, positive year. We know that we have not covered all potential countries and there are a lot of restrictive markets which are challenging for us.
It is our ambition to establish our system in such markets, and expand our export and import activities.
Since a couple of years ago, we have realised in our daily job that globalisation has taken place in the feed sector. However, our work ethic when we started out in Germany in 1991 remains the same as we engage the world today.
Euroduna's headquarters in Germany
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