IFFI 15 years – What is the vision of Tjalling Bekker
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 Tjalling Bekker from FrieslandCampina view IFFI, both in the past and in the future?
|Name: Tjalling Bekker
Lives in: Zeist
Year of birth: 1968
Company: Friesland Campina
Function: Commercial Director
IFFI: EC member (Executive Council)
How did you get into the food ingredients industry?
“After my studies, I wanted to work in the food industry. It appealed to me as an industry because you can find these products ‘on every street corner’ all over the world. Additionally, I wanted to work internationally. The ingredients business is truly global. You deal with customers from all over the world, from Chile to China. The combination of food and international aspects led me to ingredients, and I’m still here. I have been working for FrieslandCampina for 25 years now.”
You work for FrieslandCampina Ingredients. What does your company do?
“We are 100% focused on nutritional ingredients for several industry segments. First and foremost, baby food. We provide ingredients for use in baby food products, helping babies grow in a healthy way. Additionally, we supply nutritional ingredients for adults, such as medical nutrition. People recovering from a major surgery require additional nutritional components, and we supply them to medical food producers. Recovery is also important in sports, so we provide many ingredients for sports nutrition. The last segment in which we are increasingly active is a hybrid and rapidly growing segment between regular food and sports nutrition. Think of ingredients for supplements that can provide extra benefits, such as supporting the functioning of your digestive system.”
When did you become involved with IFFI?
“FrieslandCampina has been involved with IFFI from the beginning when it consisted of two companies: Friesland Foods and Campina. Personally, I have been member of IFFI’s Executive Council for three years now. I took over from a colleague at that time. Before that I used to attend IFFI sessions as a guest for 10 years.”
What do you see as the importance of IFFI?
“What appeals to me is the idea that IFFI brings together the ingredients business in the Netherlands on a regular basis because there are overarching themes. You can discuss these themes within your own company, but it is also interesting to discuss them with other companies in the same business. IFFI provides a good platform for this. Moreover, because the Netherlands is such a major player in the field of ingredients, there are many relevant players, from large multinationals to smaller local companies. It is precisely this combination that makes it interesting. Additionally, IFFI organizes events on a regular basis that delve deeper into specific themes. The great thing is that you build a network with people whom you can easily reach out to.”
IFFI then and IFFI now, what is the biggest change within the club?
“Although I have only been member of the IFFI Executive Council for three years, I have definitely seen changes within the organization. It mainly lies in the themes we address. Three years ago, the themes were much more general than they are now. The need to discuss urgent themes has only increased in recent years. Think of the Covid crisis, inflation. These events greatly impact our business and urge for more sustainable business models. How do you deal with that as a company?”
What do you consider to be IFFI’s greatest achievement so far?
“Forming a network of food ingredient professionals who can easily connect with each other. The fact that the number of members continues to increase proves that more and more companies recognize the importance of the network.”
Would you like IFFI to expand beyond borders?
“We have had that discussion a few times. I would be happy if IFFI firstly became a more diverse group, with more women and younger people, for example. After that, I would consider expanding internationally. Ingredients is an international business, so that could certainly be interesting. The charm of IFFI however also lies in its Dutch setting and shared challenges. At the same time, ensuring sufficient member engagement is a challenge. Finding the right balance is crucial.”
What do you wish for IFFI in 10 years?
“In 10 years, international expansion would be a good idea. Maybe we should first try by selecting companies that can easily integrate, such as Belgian companies or foreign branches of current members. That would lower the barrier for them to participate and attend meetings. If that proves successful, then we can further expand beyond borders. So, more diverse and international—that would be a great step.”
SAVE THE DATE!
21st of September 2023, IFFI EVENT