IFFI 15 years – What is the vision of Renee Boerefijn
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?
Today: How does Renee Boerefijn, IFFI board member, see IFFI, both in the past and in the future?
|Name: Renee Boerefijn
Lives in: Vlaardingen
Year of birth: 1970
Function: R&D Director
IFFI: Board member (Executive Council)
How did you enter the ingredients industry?
“I started in Consumer Goods R&D (Unilever), where I had a lot of interactions with suppliers. At that time, I was on the customer side (from an ingredients perspective). One day, I was offered to move to the other side and I accepted the opportunity.”
What was your first encounter with IFFI?
“I first encountered IFFI when the company where I worked was invited to help found IFFI. The benefits of the network were obvious and I was nominated as a board member. That was at the time IFFI was founded, in 2007.”
What do you see as the importance of IFFI?
“IFFI was born from the idea that as a supplier of ingredients, you provide a part of your customer’s product, while other ingredient suppliers provide other parts. When you know how you fit into the whole and understand parallel developments in other parts of your customer’s end product, you can respond and grow accordingly. That’s the idea behind IFFI.
The member companies also develop and help each other practically. Let me give you a few examples. I remember a maintenance shutdown at our factory. After the maintenance, the plant wouldn’t work anymore because one part was broken. The supplier didn’t have it in stock and it was going to cost us a lot in terms of lost business. However, through the IFFI network, I knew that another IFFI member company had a similar factory, and they had two of those parts in stock. The other IFFI member was extremely kind and let us use their spare. We would not have known about this otherwise, and it prevented significant costs.
Additionally, we have given other member companies access to pilot facilities they didn’t have themselves, thereby helping them in their development.”
IFFI then and now, what is the biggest change within the club?
“With each new chairman, we decide on a different focus. At the beginning, the idea was to focus on collaboration. With the second president, we ensured the network would also serve as a way to sparring and learning environment for our people. To learn from each other, get inspired by each other and serve as a reference for each other to improve. Benchmarking is a critical function of our network: together, we raise the bar. This is important, as we need to protect our industry from cowboys – those who don’t fully follow the rules. The repercussions of this would impact our entire industry and jeopardize the trust of customers and consumers. Benchmarking also helps today as we are facing various commonchallenges: the climate transition, the protein transition, and the energy transition.
The network creates a safe space for members to ask each other for help or advice, to share contacts. You can look at each other to learn, or actively seek help from one another, like asking, “Hey, we need this too, how do you approach it, can we learn from you?’ It requires openness, reflection, and the ambition to do better.”
What is the best achievement of IFFI so far?
“I believe that as IFFI, we have a very strong network, and I think that is the best achievement we have made. It’s a tight, thriving network. Additionally, we have grown from about 15 to 28 members in recent years. That may not sound like much, but considering the requirements (production, sales, and innovation all based in Netherlands) for joining IFFI, it’s quite significant.”
What are your wishes for IFFI in 10 years?
“IFFI is increasingly seen as the “spokesperson” of the ingredients industry, which is a positive development. However, considering the responsibility that comes with that, we still have a few steps to take. It’s important that we focus on strengthening the network, especially in terms of diversity. Currently, the demographics are relatively traditional, and I believe it can become more diverse. Companies may take steps to alter that. We would all benefit from it. In that way I am sure we will continue to build IFFI for the benefit of the ingredients industry in the coming years.”