The world's population is growing rapidly. "We are on our way to 10 billion people," observes Patrick Niels, who as Executive Vice President is in charge of DSM's global Food & Beverage business. "If we continue to produce food in the same way as we do today, it will be impossible to guarantee all those people a good, healthy meal. Moreover, we would make an unacceptable claim on the environment." In recent years, DSM has mapped out the major societal challenges to respond to. "We have to focus; we can't do everything, of course," says Niels. "We are strong in health, nutrition and life sciences. So we are bundling our activities in the three business groups 'Food & Beverage' (F&B), 'Health, Nutrition & Care' and 'Animal Nutrition & Health'. In F&B, our ambition is to help the food industry make products that are tasty, nutritious and sustainable."
The headquarters of DSM F&B will be located in Delft. This is no coincidence. "In Delft, we started life sciences and biotechnology 150 years ago as the Royal Dutch Yeast and Spirits Factory by developing high quality baker’s yeasts. Now, a century and a half later, we have an exceptional ecosystem here in the field of biotechnology. We not only have production facilities, where we still make yeast extracts, but also a high-tech research center, excellent laboratory facilities and a lot of application knowledge. This enables us to respond directly and fully to the wishes and needs of our customers, large food concerns. Together with them we develop end products that taste good, have the right nutritional value and are sustainable." In addition to a research center in Delft, DSM also has a knowledge center for dairy in Food Valley Wageningen, and of course branches on all continents where F&B is active. "A consumer in Southeast Asia has different requirements than a consumer in North America. That's why we want to be represented there on the ground as well."
Food System Commitment
Biotechnology as practised in Delft is a crucial factor in providing food for the world's population in the longer run as well. "There is a rapidly growing market for meat, fish and dairy substitutes, in addition to traditional animal sourced foods. DSM is a key player in this. With our ingredients, expertise, and solutions, we help producers make plant-based products. These increasingly offer the authentic taste and mouthfeel of animal-based foods, and are also just as rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, for example. Without harming animals and with a much smaller CO2 footprint," says Niels. DSM has expressed a measurable ambition in this regard, one of its 'Food System Commitments': in the next ten years, the company commits to doubling the number of people who regularly come into contact with plant-based options made with DSM ingredients; from 75 to at least 150 million people a year. In addition to this target for plant-based options, DSM's F&B branch remains the major player in the field of ingredients for dairy products, brewing processes, and bakery ingredients that it is today. And here, too, innovation continues to meet the company's ambitious growth target.
The biotech hotspot
Meanwhile, one innovation after another sees the light of day in Delft. Patrick Niels is enormously enthusiastic: "Look at how mankind treats fish now. That is not healthy. You have to process dozens of kilos of fish to produce one liter of Omega-3 fatty acids. We have succeeded in making Omega-3 on the basis of algae. That is really very nice. We have also managed to extract protein from rapeseed and develop it into a good-tasting raw material for food. We will soon produce it on a large scale in France. We are also working on cultured meat. We do that together with the company Meatable at our Biotech Campus. And we have developed a tasty sugar substitute based on stevia."The fact that a conglomerate of startups and scale-ups is developing alongside DSM at Planet B.io on the Biotech Campus Delft adds to the innovative strength. "We inspire each other, make each other stronger and together build Delft as the biotech hotspot in the world. When I visit other biotech campuses, for example in San Francisco, everyone knows where Delft is and what we do here. We can be proud of that - I certainly am. Because, just like 150 years ago, it is Delft again where we develop and produce solutions that make a difference!"
Photo front page: the Food & Beverage slogan