‘I want to make sure that IFFI stays relevant’

Dirk Lodewijk, CEO of Royal Koopmans, is the new chairman of IFFI, Ingredients For Food Innovators. “IFFI monitors developments in the market and society. The meetings and masterclasses organized by IFFI provide individuals in the ingredients industry the opportunity to network, exchange knowledge, and enhance their skills. I am committed to preserving the relevance of this network, both now and in the future.”

Lodewijk succeeds Ruud Peerbooms (Corbion). He was presented as the new chairman during the IFFI congress on September 21, 2023, celebrating the network’s fifteenth anniversary. The decision to become IFFI’s chairman was not taken lightly. “It requires careful consideration. I believe in mutual exchange as a member of a network like IFFI. Over the past years, I’ve experienced this not only for the company but also on a personal level,” said Lodewijk. He sees it as his responsibility to contribute, utilizing his knowledge and experience in the food industry. “It’s also a great opportunity for personal growth. Royal Koopmans gives me the time and space to pursue this opportunity. IFFI is a healthy organization, and I’m eager to be part of it.”

Gaining Knowledge

The masterclasses organized by IFFI are of interest to both employees and companies. “In the B-to-B sector, there is virtually no offering of courses or training on topics like dealing with pricing. IFFI addresses this gap, covering various areas. Some of our marketing staff attended one of the masterclasses. Participating was not only educational but also facilitated an exchange between employees and companies. I’ve experienced this firsthand. I attend events not just for networking but also to acquire knowledge.”

Staying Relevant

Lodewijk aims to contribute to keeping IFFI current and wants to expand the network. However, that’s not his main goal. “I see it more as a result of consistently doing things right and staying relevant.” Lodewijk believes that new members will naturally join when a network aligns with the concerns of its members, society, and the market. “You can connect these aspects. IFFI can act as a catalyst.” He doesn’t plan to make significant changes. “It’s a healthy network, including both large and small companies. There’s minimal political influence. Both large and small companies have a voice, and the agenda isn’t dominated by multinationals. The network is very accessible, and people easily connect. The sessions and events are interesting, inspiring, well-organized, and, most importantly, enjoyable to attend.”


In the future, the IFFI network can assist companies in tackling numerous challenges within the industry. “Of these challenges, sustainability takes the top spot. How do you ensure that as a company, sustainability is not just a ‘license to operate,’ but genuinely integrated into the organization?” Royal Koopmans has experience in this regard, thanks to Nedertarwe. “We’ve developed a sustainable concept, benefiting all links in the chain. However, it’s certainly not easy; it has taken dedication and hard work.”


Other challenges include CSRD Legislation, affecting companies. “This ties into the same theme. Companies can’t just talk about sustainability; they must tangibly demonstrate it and report it in their annual statements. It relates to various issues like water quality, management, and soil quality. In the agri-food sector, where many of our members have connections, different choices must be made.” Affordability is also a current and future concern. “How do you ensure that sustainable and organic products become affordable for a broader audience? Scaling up and promoting green growth can help, but mutual collaboration is essential. To bring about changes, we need to exchange best practices and enhance cooperation between chains.” Workforce shortages are also a relevant topic for IFFI members. “We’re just at the beginning of this challenge, and it will become even more challenging in the future to attract good talent. We’re all fishing in the same pond.” Legislation and food safety, according to Lodewijk, remain crucial themes for members.

Political Engagement

IFFI isn’t a trade organization and doesn’t lobby the government. “If there’s a need, we could collaborate with other organizations like FNLI. However, it’s crucial to make our voice heard in politics. As IFFI, we form one extensive practical network. Politics heavily relies on our network to tackle challenges in our domain, such as sustainability, regenerative agriculture, the job market, and legislation. They can use us to assess the feasibility of ideas and garner support for their plans. I believe in connection. Currently, there’s too much distance and not enough substantive knowledge. It’s vital to bridge the gap, to showcase our activities—not so much as a lobbying group but more to share knowledge and experience, enabling politics to formulate effective policies for the future, no matter how challenging that may be.”

Published in EVMI 8, 2023

Dirk Lodewijk


share this