Taking office as CEO of Puratos in January this year, Pierre Tossut is set to lead the company and attain the goals of the family business, from driving research and innovation to expanding its support for communities in areas where it operates. Brussels-based Puratos is known for bakery, patisserie and chocolate ingredients, and serves artisans, industrials, retailers and food service companies in over 100 countries.
Tossut has been with Puratos for the past 26 years, being directly responsible for Puratos' R&D, marketing, product management and sales divisions. He structured the group's health and well-being approach, a cornerstone of the company since its conception. Prior to this, Tossut led the expansion of the group's worldwide R&D footprint, heading an international team of 475 people driving research across the globe.
In this interview with FoodPacific Manufacturing Journal, Tossut outlines the aspects that matter as he takes over from Daniel Malcorps, who led the company for 20 years.
Pierre Tossut, CEO, Puratos
As the new CEO, the agenda is to further "Puratos' global impact and to achieve the company's 5-billion-euro turnover target by 2030." What actions will further the above agenda during your term?
The people we work with and Puratos's single focus on our customers have always been key to our success, and we will ensure that these remain at the center of our attention every day. At Puratos, we are proud of our innovation – it is in our DNA and will continue to be a key priority. During COVID, we remained dedicated to delivering our ambitious plans to bring ground-breaking innovations to market; one example being Belcolade Selection M. Plant-Based Cacao-Trace. Increased investment in our health and well-being strategy is also taking precedence, evidenced by our range of acquisitions in several markets, including Schobbers, Rushleb, Profimix and THT, that are all meant to strengthen our health and well-being product offer. A commitment to sustainability is high on our agenda; successful implementation of an operating model that goes beyond the creation of economic value is critically important to us. That model has to be sustainable, respectful and balanced. Progress includes several of our sites becoming carbon-neutral and the goal to reach carbon neutrality across our whole organisation by 2025.
We are also dedicated to supporting communities in the countries where we operate, and we will extend our efforts in this area. The Filipino Bakery School, Puratos' sixth school, welcomed its first students in 2021 and in the coming year, a new bakery school will open in the US. By 2030, we aspire to have 1,000 young people in our schools. Our mission is to educate young people to enable them to turn their passion into a rewarding way of life and create meaningful skills to benefit the bakery, patisserie and chocolate industries, as well as the wider community.
What would stakeholders in Asia (Southeast Asia) expect from Puratos in 2022 and beyond?
From a sustainability perspective, Puratos has set clear objectives to reduce CO2, waste and water consumption. By 2025, we're aiming to be carbon neutral, and by 2030, we intend to be water balanced. Several sites in Asia are already carbon-neutral and more are in the process of becoming so, making this region a forerunner in our global carbon-neutral mission.
We are also dedicated to evolving our product and service offerings and providing superior support and guidance through a combination of insightful, tailored expertise and valuable, industry-leading technologies. For example, our Digital AdvisAR is an augmented reality application that instantly connects bakers, patissiers and chocolatiers to our experts to help with troubleshooting and problem-solving. It is a reliable and sustainable solution for any customer seeking immediate expert advice on recipe, technical or quality challenges. Digital AdvisAR was tested in several countries during the pandemic and will soon be available in Asian nations too. The app is available in the user's language and features universally user-friendly icons to navigate.
Coming in with integrated knowledge of R&D, product management, marketing and sales, are there specific innovations that you would like to see achieved during your tenure?
Puratos is a pioneer in the field of nutritious ingredients and health and well-being. Innovation has been the beating pulse of the company since its conception over a century ago, from the early renditions of healthy, toasted wheat germ bread mix for dieters to high vitamin bread mixes for progressive customers. Our overriding objective is to provide innovative products and solutions with the best nutritional value possible, never compromising on taste, texture, quality or safety, and we are committed to continuing on this trailblazing trajectory.
We also plan to further leverage our 'always-on' proprietary research program, Taste Tomorrow, now the largest global consumer research program in bakery, patisserie and chocolate. Taste Tomorrow identifies current and future trending topics, illuminating pathways for bakers, patissiers, chocolatiers, brand owners, manufacturers and retailers to successfully navigate the rapidly evolving consumer landscape. For example, the latest research revealed that demand for traditional tastes and textures is less pronounced in Asian markets, such as China (66 per cent), Thailand (59 per cent), South Korea (57 per cent), Japan (54 per cent). This highlights consumers in the region are more open to trying products with new textures and tastes, presenting powerful opportunities for Puratos's customers to develop products that meet the changing needs of curious consumers and help them gain the competitive edge. I look forward to working collaboratively with our customers on truly innovative and disruptive solutions.
What would be the most important thing in running a successful business in a competitive ingredients industry?
It is important not only to provide targeted solutions, insights and services to our customers, but also create change that matters to move the planet forward. This objective sits at the heart of our ethos. We believe that, as a responsible food company, we are rightfully tasked with making life-changing social contributions wherever we operate. Our bakery schools provide quality education to elevate youngsters across the world, nurturing individual development while filling critical skills gaps and driving forward economic prosperity. In addition, our Cacao-Trace program helps cocoa farmers increase their income, thanks to the production of superior-tasting chocolate achieved by mastering the fermentation process. We have already started to tackle some of the big issues within our food industry and we look forward to further delivering positive impact on society.
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