This year, 2023, IFFI celebrates its 15th anniversary. We are proud of that! This will reflect in our social media posts and at our events. We give the stage to people who have been with us since the beginning and ask them: What was IFFI then versus what is IFFI now?
In this episode: How does Ad van Vugt from Exter view IFFI, both in the past and moving forward?

Name: Ad van Vugt

Lives in: Zaandam

Year of birth: 1954

Company: Exter

Function: Director

IFFI: One of IFFI’s founding members 

How did you land in the food ingredients industry?

“After finishing my Law Studies, I applied at Unilever. They referred me to Loders Croklaan. The latter hired me. This was in 1980. I later took a turn to Barentz, a distributor of ingredients. In 2000, I quit. I wanted to discover whether I could work on my own, without the big boys. I started a small company in Zaandam, specialized in assembling and packaging ingredients. One of my clients was DSM, they then still made products under the brand name Exter. When DSM wanted to close the production, John Bruggink and I decided to take over Exter. That was in 2005.”

What does Exter produce?

“We create meat flavor without butchering animals. From protein side streams of the food ingredients industry and the help of cooking and baking process, we produce a meat flavor. Chicken, beef, pork, baked, grilled, cooked or barbecued: it doesn’t matter. These are vegan powders that are being sent out all over the world.”

What was your first encounter with IFFI?

“Every year, with Exter, we went to the FIE fair which alternates between Paris, London or Frankfurt. An incredibly fun fair, because you meet many people from the industry. What ensued were always many conversations but also collaborations. We concluded it was a shame to meet each other just once a year. It should be more often. That’s when Halbe got the idea for IFFI. He initiated conversations with multiple companies, and one of these was ours in Zaandam. IFFI was founded, and we at Exter were all in.” 

What’s the value of IFFI?

“It’s a knowledge and information network. All members are just a phone call away from each other. If you want a piece of information you are lacking about a certain ingredient, all you need to do is call. From the beginning on we invested a lot in training. The consumer market knows a lot of selling and marketing training, but the business side barely does. We filled that gap.”

IFFI: then and now, what is the biggest difference within the network?

“The capacity. We grew. Look at how many people joined us at the start up event last september! The second is professionalization. When you look at how IFFI is organized today, it’s a big difference compared to how it was in the beginning.”

What is IFFI’s biggest accomplishment so far?

“Developing an information network. The bond between members. Some people have been members for years, since the beginning. IFFI abroad? To me, that is not necessary. It complicates things. I prefer small, manageable network events, when you can reach each other more easily. It also strengthens our organization.”

What are your wishes for IFFI in 10 years?

“That relates to my previous answer. I think there could be events dedicated to the government legislations, that we dive deeper into. Think about the enormous price increases of raw resources due to the war in Ukraine for example. This was a big setback for ingredient companies in the world market. Companies in the US and Asia are less impacted by these circumstances. We could approach our government and say “watch out boys.” People want shorter supply lines from the industry. But what’s happening? We don’t want to risk anything so we buy things from Asia and the Americas. So yes, I’d like IFFI to get recognized as representative organ of the ingredients and processing industry.”

“What else? To keep doing business together, that’s important. That’s a constant for me.”




21st of September 2023, IFFI EVENT


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