Heritage, quality, innovation, and customer focus are the four pillars of strength for bakery supplier CSM Ingredients, according to its new general manager James Dedman.
While assuming the position a mere four months ago, Dedman says he’s known about the global brand for 25 to 30 years. “One thing that struck me when I was approached for this role is the heritage – CSM has a very strong tradition in bakery ingredients,” he tells British Baker. “If you ask around in the bakery industry, the quality of the products of CSM really sets us apart.”
In the UK its products are made at a site in Manchester – set to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year – and in the Wirral. The latter evolved out of its separation from Baker & Baker in 2021, and also houses a product development centre. A total of 109 employees works across the two facilities producing items for brands Arkady (which makes dough conditioners) and Craigmillar (known for its all-American style confectionery products such as fats, cake mixes, and toppings).
The UK operation, with turnover of £51.5m for 2022, is just one slice of the CSM Ingredients pie. Headquartered in Luxembourg, the firm has offices in 15 countries worldwide with eight more manufacturing sites in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, and China.
Dedman himself has a long and well-travelled history in the ingredients industry. Starting out as a food science and technology graduate from the University of Wales in Cardiff, he bagged a lab job with a small food ingredients company. This then became part of a bigger entity – a joint venture between Finnsugar and Roche Chemicals – that sent him to Kuala Lumpur in 2004 to help support business development in the Asia Pacific region. Over the years he has also spent time in France and latterly in Finland, where he worked for food and beverage manufacturer Fazer to set up a new food tech business, bringing upcycled ingredients to commercialisation.
Dedman reveals that his most recent stint with Fazer afforded him a good look at both sides of the manufacturing business – B2B for flour milling and ingredients and B2C for food & drink products. “I learnt what was key for the B2B side and how to bring that into the B2C commercial side,” he notes.
Another aspect that Dedman saw the Nordics were “really hot on” was sustainability, with Finland, Sweden, and Norway currently taking the top three index ranking spots respectively in Europe. “All the ingredients that we were bringing through had some kind of key role to play in our sustainability goals,” he adds.
“We didn’t use any animal products for example, everything was plant based and mainly upcycled ingredients. So, taking waste and making it into something of value, that was another key learning there, and I think that can also be brought into a company like CSM.”
CSM has a growing range of vegan offerings, with one recent addition in the form of its plant-based egg wash alternative Magic Glaze. “Bringing in these innovations helps make bakery more accessible to everyone,” says Dedman, pointing to the soaring prices of eggs due to avian flu, supply chain issues, and other inflationary factors as other reasons to look to plant-based ingredients.
Innovation is high on the agenda for Dedman and CSM in general with four open innovation hubs in operation at its international Parma, Bingen, Delmenhorst, and Goes sites.
In addition to its innovation hubs, CSM has established relationships with a number of external institutes – the University of Bremen for example – which often have cutting edge equipment in their labs. It also provides food tech startups with some much-needed R&D opportunities. “We can bring them in and sign an NDA and do a kind of ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ with our new products. See how they match up,” adds Dedman.
Healthy NPD pipeline
Italian firm Hi-Food, which was acquired by CSM in 2022, is focussed on protein enrichment and reduction of fat and sugar, which are set to help CSM hit key HFSS targets – it claims to have achieved a 40% reduction of sodium levels across its entire product range in the last five years.
Dedman reveals the company has been looking to add value in the gluten-free space as well, which has a very strong market in the UK, second only to Germany in Europe, he says.
Another market segment that performs well in the UK is doughnuts, with the supplier intending to strengthen its range of catering mixes. CSM Ingredients has an affinity with doughnuts, as demonstrated by its annual sponsorship of National Doughnut Week, which will next be held from 18 to 26 May.
“We can bring new innovations in the doughnut arena, which is exciting for us,” reveals Dedman, suggesting that bakery adjacent categories such as nutrition bars could also be explored.
There’s also extensive work in developing new pack sizes for foodservice operators, which have different requirements to those from its large-scale bakeries.
Meanwhile, CSM Ingredients has been striving to produce more clean label products to allow its customers to do the same. “Over the last four years, we’ve added 240 new ingredients into our global portfolio – all natural and sustainable,” says Dedman. “We have 4,500 formulations based on those new ingredients that we that we can apply.”
As part of an ingredients tech platform, which includes the likes of Parker Foods in the US and another Italian firm Italcanditi, CSM is able to tap into a vast array of products. “Our CEO Aldo Uva is Italian, so you can see the theme running through here, but they have some really fantastic products that we haven’t brought into the UK market yet that would make us more innovative,” asserts Dedman.
He notes this huge amount of raw materials allows it to pick and choose and tailor products for different customers, catering to everyone from “Mr Jones next door” bakery shops up to the industrial big boys like Hovis or Warburtons.
By providing ingredients that extend shelf life of products or allow one batch of dough to be used in different ways, CSM is also assisting SME bakeries in improving profit margins, he says. Dedman expresses a keenness to help craft bakers to avoid the same fate as many craft brewers, who have been forced to close their doors in recent years due to economic challenges.
Following the CEO’s vision of becoming a ‘net positive ingredients platform’, CSM has managed to increase its use of renewable energy to 35% across all of its plants – four of these are now running on 100% including from solar panels installed on roofs. The business is targeting 100% renewable energy usage in its worldwide operations within the next two years.
A third CSM Ingredients Sustainability Report is expected to be released later this year, with Dedman noting that processes and targets were still being finalised. As well as actively reducing its carbon emissions, CSM purchases carbon credits and supports conservation initiatives such as the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada and a coastal project in Guatemala.
It also has a programme entitled ‘Care’ that aims to reduce food waste. “It’s about getting it right first time,” comments Dedman. “When we produce a lot of things and we don’t want to waste anything, we need to take care when making it.”
That no doubt extends to CSM’s attitude in general as it looks to uphold the four pillars of heritage, quality, innovation, and customer focus.