Editorial Advisory Board

‘I intend to become a Jedi-master on bakery ingredients in order to drive sustainable and an innovative industry’: Getting to know Fedima’s secretary-general

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Dirk van Ham: Trying to make business rewarding for all involved.
Dirk van Ham: Trying to make business rewarding for all involved.

Related tags FEDIMA Sustainability Convenience foods health & wellness Brexit Bakery ingredients

BakeryandSnacks has enlisted Dirk van Ham, Secretary General of Fedima, on its Editorial Advisory Board, which will enable the site to maintain its position at the coalface of industry-related news, regulations, new product development and technological development.

Fedima is the European trade association representing the bakery, patisserie and confectionery ingredients’ manufacturers.

BAS: You have only recently been appointed Secretary-General of Fedima - please tell us about yourself and your route to the baking ingredients industry.

I have more than 25 years of experience in the food and drinks industry, covering different roles and responsibilities across sales (local and international), general management, and public affairs with Danone, Scottish & Newcastle and Diageo.

I have mainly worked in the alcoholic beverage sector, arguably one of the most regulated industries on the planet.

I recently joined Lobco, an Antwerp-based consultancy agency, as managing partner. Last year, Fedima approached us to consider taking up the Secretary General role – an invitation I couldn’t refuse.

BAS: Please describe your leadership style. Will your role give you the opportunity to get hands-on experience to share with members?

I would describe my leadership style as collaborative. It is important to focus on both facilitating and coaching, as well as challenging with positive intent and with an open mindset if needed.

While I am new to the baking ingredients industry, I do see a lot of common ground with my previous field of expertise. Similar challenges arose around our license to operate and around sustainability, albeit at a different level. As such, from my perspective, I believe I can already add value by sharing my experience and ideas, but I do intend to become a Jedi-master on bakery ingredients soon.

A hands-on approach to sharing my experience is very much part of my purpose in this role.

BAS: What is Fedima’s mission statement?

To create a favourable environment ensuring a sustainable and an innovative bakery industry.

BAS: Please complete the sentence: Teamwork is important because …

… there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. Teamwork almost always leads to better outcomes and simply put, it is much more fun.

BAS: From Fedima’s perspective, what are the sector’s biggest trends?

There are several trends impacting the sector, from nutrition to sustainability and convenience.

There is a noticeable increase in health-conscious consumers, for whom the nutritional properties of a product are of great concern.

As is the case across sectors, consumers are also increasingly taking into account the sustainability of products, which is increasingly driving consumption choices.

Consumers are also progressively calling for convenience, with frozen products being a key example, as well as moving towards natural products. We must not underestimate the impact such trends will have on several industries, and how they will drive change across the baking and patisserie sector.

BAS: Does Fedima believe the industry is proactive in answering consumer needs and what are some of the biggest innovations coming out?

Consumers’ increasing interest in health and nutrition, convenience and sustainability are reshaping the industry, which is constantly working to address customers’ changing needs. Innovation  stemming from these trends include, for example, the use of new ingredients and processing methods to enhance products’ quality and their nutritional value.

Similarly, increasing attention is paid to the use of additives, whilst guaranteeing product safety and without altering taste and quality.

BAS: Are there any glaring white spaces that the industry ought to be addressing?

In order to improve acceptance of industrial products, transparency and credibility must be prioritised. By reshaping the regulatory framework, the industry can aim to further improve the nutritional properties of patisserie products, all the while respecting consumer satisfaction.

BAS: What are the recent milestones achieved by Fedima?

Fedima has grown from a small association to a broadly accepted actor in all forums where the future of food legislation is being shaped.

It recently played an active role in the discussions concerning bakery products, and more specifically, the ingredients used in these. While improving the taste of products, Fedima members have also been able to impact the quality of life of their customers.

Fedima has also brought together various sectors of the bakery chain in order to align strategies with the aim of better responding to consumer expectations.

BAS: What impact does Fedima believe Brexit will have on the industry in general?

Along with its UK member, the Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers (ABIM), Fedima is eager to ensure that the impact of Brexit on the EU and UK bakery industry is minor, both for its members and for consumers.

BAS: What do you think will be the next ‘best thing’ in bakery ingredients?

I believe the bakery ingredients sector will be recognised for driving solutions for product naturality.

BAS: Where does Fedima see the sector in five years from now?

In five years, Fedima definitely expects the sector to be more sustainable and innovative, while being transparent with the consumers regarding products and processes. We also expect the sector to further protect the industry employees’ health and safety.

BAS: On a personal note, what keeps you busy when not focused on Fedima?

In order of importance:

My family and friends – trying to make it count.

My health and wellbeing – trying to make it last.

My business – trying to make it rewarding for all involved.

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