Serendipity is the key word
Before IFFI was founded, Dirk Balfoort and Halbe Vogel both witnessed the same issues in their workplace. The information required by some was in the hands of others. If only these two parties met and shared information, projects could become twice as efficient. “That’s why IFFI has been founded”. We talked with him about his career and what IFFI means to him.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I tend not to present myself with my job title. It creates assumptions and labels someone before the interlocutor has had time to get to know them. In official terms, I am managing director of Lefka O’Life. I prefer to call myself its founder, however.
Through a succession of different functions within the food ingredients – first at Kievit, until it became FrieslandCampina, then at a company producing baby ingredients – I eventually founded Lefka O’Life, together with partner Pavel. What do we do? Helping family businesses all around the world to develop their food ingredients business – more specifically making composed ingredients. We deliver assistance with strategy, application, product development and last but not least, active sales. Our rule is that we only engage in business with companies whose ideas we stand by and that we support. We work with nice people only.
What, according to you, is the most important development in the food industry?
The ingredients market will always exist: even in times of crisis, people need to eat. Despite the current war in Ukraine, lack of resources and inflation, we will survive this as an industry.
One big challenge I do foresee is adjusting the misconception that plant-based equals sustainable. Plant-based food is trendy because of sustainability, yet the truth is that they are often mutually exclusive. The production of almond milk, for example, a cow milk alternative, requires huge amounts of water and is therefore not per se more sustainable than regular milk. The responsibility of the ingredients industry lies in combining sustainability with plant-based. To make plant-based the actually more environmentally friendly choice.
What does IFFI mean to you?
To me ‘serendipity’ is the key word when it comes to IFFI. Inventions happen by coincidence. They are a mix of the right ideas and the right people meeting at a specific place and time. With IFFI, we aim to facilitate serendipity: to create a favorable environment for the right people to meet and engage in, who knows, collaborations, or offer each other pieces of information they were missing. Suddenly, an idea takes shape and unexpected connections take place.
Adding to that, the regular masterclasses at IFFI allow for relationship building, which builds trust. Trust makes people more willing to open up and share ideas.
Founder Lefka O’Life