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Exclusive interview

Fresh bread following craft beer’s trajectory, says Novozymes

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Gill Hyslop

By Gill Hyslop+

Last updated on 03-May-2017 at 08:49 GMT2017-05-03T08:49:31Z

Novozymes invests around 13% of its revenue annually in R&D to develop enzymes for the bakery industry, among others. Pic: Novozymes
Novozymes invests around 13% of its revenue annually in R&D to develop enzymes for the bakery industry, among others. Pic: Novozymes

Danish biotech firm Novozymes AS is investing in R&D to help meet changing consumer demands for bread with immediate freshness and low carbs.

In an exclusive interview with BakeryandSnacks, Rasmus von Gottberg, vice president, Global Marketing, Food & Beverages of Novozymes AS, said: “We believe that bread is undergoing a resurgence, with the rise of artisanal and in-store bakeries; a bit like the craft beer movement.

“Consumers are demanding and will pay extra for quality and freshness. And that is where enzymes play a big role.”

Food for fluid living

The art of enzymes

Novozymes’ core business is producing enzymes for variety of industries, including food and beverage, household care, bioenergy, agriculture and feed, and technical and pharma.

“Our business is essentially about identifying relevant enzymes to achieve certain functionalities,” said von Gottberg.

According to von Gottberg, there is an estimated trillion microorganisms on planet Earth, which produce the enzymes that act as the catalysts of biochemical reactions vital for our survival.

In bakery, for example, “There are enzymes occurring naturally in flour. When you start eating, you have enzymes in your saliva that break down the food throughout your body.”

Using enzymes is not new.

“You can trace the use of enzymes in bread- and cheese-making, brewing and so on, to 2,000 years before Christ. It’s not something we invented in the last decade, we just industrialized them,” he said, noting Novozymes is currently the market leader in industrial enzymes, with a 48% market share, followed by DuPont with 19%.

Although consumers are seeking longer shelf life, von Gottberg said capturing “the immediate freshness” is becoming more important.

Rasmus von Gottberg

“The nature of what consumers want in terms of freshness is evolving. It is less about keeping baked goods fresh as long as possible and more about the time you get the ‘fresh’ sensation you experience as a consumer. Knowing that when you buy bread in store, it’s just as fresh as when it first came out of the oven,” he said.

Today’s consumer is also more health conscious, and a high carb product like bread could create a conflict.

To combat this, explained von Gottberg, Novozymes has developed enzymes to help make the bread healthier, while improving other characteristics, such as aesthetics and taste.

“You need to drive your cost competitiveness. There is automation and traditional industrial drivers, but you also need flexibility,” he said.

“We see significant potential for our technology to support innovation in these areas,” claimed von Gottberg, stating the company invests around 13% of its revenue in R&D.

“We have not been delivering enough innovation in the bakery segment lately to sustain value creation for our customers and to the benefit of consumers, and frankly, to the benefit of Novozymes in terms of growth,” he admitted.

“It is our role to drive enzyme innovation for the bakery industry,” he said.

Basket of challenges

While the company’s largest markets are developed markets, emerging markets like Brazil and India are as significant, bringing in around a third of its revenue.

According to the company’s last financial report, in 2016, sales to developed markets grew by 1%, while sales to emerging markets grew by 5% organically compared to the year prior. In 2017, the report forecasted a rising demand for its bakery enzymes, mainly from emerging markets across the Middle East, China and Africa. 

However, these markets produce their own challenges.

“Take, for example, the quality of flour, which will vary from country to country. We have enzymatic solutions to modify or ‘correct’ the flour so that you can ensure consistent brand quality.

“Understanding cultural requirements is an important role for our application and technical service teams,” he said.

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