DuPont nutrition & health chief: We want to work with start-ups
“We are totally open to working with external partners,” Heinzel said. “There are start-ups out there looking for partners and we are every open to that.”
The boss of the DuPont division that offers the likes of probiotics, soy, sweeteners, proteins, enzymes, colours and flavours and is itself one small part of the global DuPont conglomerate, said large and small had a lot to offer each other.
“They operate differently but our experience is that it is stimulating for both sides. It is never easy but I think we have good examples of where working together elevates the overall outcome. We need to make sure that we talk to them eye to eye and not come across as the big global player. Our teams like that and I feel we are making good progress with those companies.”
Regionally speaking, Heinzel, based in the US but a frequent visitor to the Danish Danisco HQ DuPont paid about €4.5bn for in 2011, said developing markets remained key.
“We certainly want to drive growth in the developing regions,” he said. “We use our application labs and we continue to expand our footprint in not only the well-known emerging markets like India and China and south America but in new markets like Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines. So that’s one big theme.”
Another was working more closely with customers and ramping up its application development power.
“Speed is absolutely critical. We helped a client in Indonesia develop a completely new offering in a matter of a few weeks.”
“Innovation is so important to build on the science we have developed and find ways to accelerate the new offerings we can bring to our customers.”
Of the merging of cultures between DuPont and Danisco he said the process was near on complete.
“I came into the business 2.5 years ago. Then I could still sense a Danisco culture, a DuPont culture. I think we have found a way over the past 12-18 months to get to the finishing line, to create a more unified nutrition and health culture.”
It's a process set to begin again with DuPont and Dow set to merge in 2016 to become the second biggest chemicals supplier in the world after BASF.
More developed markets like Europe and North America remain in focus. “We still have good growth in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Europe is key for us and key for growth going forward.”
“Probiotics demand is very high in North America and that is certainly a market segment with very high growth rates. But retail sales around health and wellness products in developing regions are much higher than in developed markets.”
More generally, the company was benefitting from broader shifts to health and wellness globally, especially as populations age. However it could be frustrating working with regulators, he noted, although the company was always keen to take its place at the table when legislation was being written.
“There is certainly a movement to say how can we collaborate to get the materials to the regulators that they need in a quicker and more effective way to get better products to consumers.”
“We are involved with supranational bodies – they look at us as a serious player with a lot of credibility. We work with them so they get what they need from us as a food ingredients supplier ultimately to benefit the consumer.”
“We are involved in different industry groups in different regions in the world to participate and provide a strong science-based view into often emotional subjects and issues. We feel the responsibility.”
The company also feels a responsibility to sustainable sourcing. “This is extremely important for DuPont. I personally feel a passion that we have to influence the way we utilise our resources. How do we reduce our footprint? Water usage? Electricity?”
“Look at palm oil. We use it in emulsifier plants and we have a clear policy to only use sustainable palm oil to minimise the resource impact. Sustainability is here to stay and it has to be here to stay.”