Just as a few years ago no one imagined that you could eat a cake made from plants, without eggs, milk or animal fat, today thinking about how to cook bread in space seems unimaginable and far away. But in the world large food companies are already working for that future that is getting closer. Puratos, a Belgian family-owned company that has been present in Argentina for more than 40 years, is one of them. It is, according explains its global CEO Pierre Tossutof constantly seeking to be one step ahead of trends.
The firm that is dedicated to creating solutions for the bakery, confectionery and chocolate sectors employs 110 people in the country and has a production plant in Pacheco from where they manufacture powdered bakery and pastry products and pastry baths and fillings. For Puratos, Argentina is a interesting market due to its highly consumer population of baked goods. In fact, in 2021 the subsidiary obtained an investment of 1.5 million euros, while it plans to close 2022 with 2.5 million morewhich they will use to replicate in the country the different food trends that they detected at a global level.
According to an investigation carried out by the company, Almost seven out of 10 Argentines who consume bakery, confectionery and chocolate want to know where their food comes from and how it was producedwhile a little more than seven out of 10 look for food adapted to their lifestyle and tailored to your nutritional needs.
The study titled taste tomorrow also made it clear, in this case on a global level, the growth experienced by online shopping. In this way, among people who consume chocolate, virtual buyers went from 26 to 49 percent, and similar numbers were replicated in pastry and bakery.
In Argentina, however, 77 percent of consumers still look for the presence of physical storesa percentage that is above the regional (71 percent) and global (77 percent) trend.
They announced investments for Argentina. What expectations do you have for the subsidiary and why do you think it is a good time to invest?
PT: We see the market as very dynamic, and when we visit bakeries we see the trends and habits of consumers and they They ask for local products, made with local raw materials. More sustainable and made products plant based, vegans, and other trends that we see and want to invest in to capture that growing market.
Puratos is a family company, we are present in more than 120 countries, so we are highly decentralized, and in each market we work closely with consumers. We have technicians who work with customers, vendors who are very close, the factories are the same. The model is one of proximity with the client to understand what they want and then develop what they need. Clearly Argentina has a large population, it is also a market where a lot of bread, cakes and chocolates are eaten, so we see an opportunity for growth and that is why we continue to invest here.
Doesn’t the context scare you?
We have a local team that knows very well how to handle complexity. We trust that they know how to do it and we bring the technologies and products to market. We have been here for more than 40 years and we are going to continue developing the market.
The trends you see in Europe are well received here?
The final products – bread, the cakes and chocolates- they are different depending on the country and even within the same country you can have different traditions. But the trends at the consumer level are the same: healthier products, more plant-basedwith local raw materials. Sometimes what changes is the speed with which they evolve. If you compare mature markets with emerging markets, it generally goes faster in emerging markets. But the basic tendencies are the same.
Ac developed local products such as dulce de leche. Do you plan to export it?
It is a flavor much loved by many people from many countries. So we are ready to sell some products with dulce de leche fillings., and we are already promoting it in the United States and Latin America. It’s not big yet, but we’re getting started.
Are you thinking of developing other products in Argentina?
yes, a lot with seeds and grains. We see that consumers really expect it in their breads. In addition, we are developing sourdough with a local flavor. also developments plant-based in cake mixes, without eggs or milk and with fruit fillings.
Access to talent is a challenge for many industries, where can you find that talent?
We believe that there are very good universities and we find very good talent which we can then train. We have Puratos University where we teach people how to sell and promote the products. We want to have the best in the market.
what consumers want
How did they get through the pandemic?
There was a period of uncertainty and we had to adapt our way of doing things. We had to reduce the number of projects, becoming faster and more agile. Adapt to the circumstances. And then gradually we worked our way out of that uncertainty. But we really challenge the way we work to be able to adapt to this new world.
Do you think the pandemic changed consumer habits?
s. Now they pay much more attention to health and wellness. Also on sustainability issues. And everything became more digital. In addition, our customers are now more willing to buy on a regular basis. on-line. There have been several changes in the market and we are adapting to that very quickly, both in our products and our processes in order to be able to follow the evolution of the market. We were one of the first companies to go out and investigate what was happening after Covid: we started in China, then we moved to Europe and then to Latin America. In other years we saw that the taste was what mattered most to our customers, now it is not that it is not important, but the first thing is the convenience. It is a big change in our consumers.
What are they doing in Argentina in plant based products?
Can make cakes totally plant-based: from the decoration to the vegetable-based cream with vegetable fat, without eggs… and we still have more solutions that will be coming. We developed a fantastic “non-dairy” chocolate that has a good taste and a good texture.
Isn’t it a niche thing anymore?
No, it’s a great move. It started on the west coast of the United States, there that trend came to replace meat, and then it spread throughout the world and today it is a big trend. Puratos started working on products plant-based in 1971 and in all alternative plant-based solutions. We already saw it coming at that time in that region and that’s when we started developing products. For us, these new trends that we are detecting are opportunities to develop changes in the market. We try to anticipate, like the Mars mission project. We want to anticipate what is going to happen in the future and be innovating all the time.
What is the Mars mission project about?
If communities are going to live on Mars one day, They will have limited resources. Like water, land, a different temperature, the energy will be limited… so we try to simulate how bread could be produced under those conditions. We produced wheat in vertical farm systems and then we made flour and sourdough, because there will be no yeast on Mars. Then we made the bread and baked it in ovens that use less energy. The goal is to anticipate and be ready to bake when resources are limited. It is anticipating what is going to happen in the future. Remember that all the work with plant based began in 1971, when nobody in the market talked about it, we started with research that today makes us have a solid portfolio.
What is the biggest challenge in the market today?
Access to skilled labor. It is not easy to find good bakers in the market. And this will be one of the challenges that we will have to overcome: finding people with the skills to continue developing the industry. That is why we created many bakery schools.