One of the larger exhibits at VICTAM Asia 2018 was from Uzwil, Switzerland-based Bühler AG. Photos by Michael King. 
Victam Asia 2018 proved an unqualified success as six conferences were held alongside a well-attended exhibition hosted at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre.


The event, held March 27-29, attracted 228 exhibitors and co-exhibitors from 33 countries and Victam International organizers said that over its three days the event received 6,987 visits from citizens of 80 countries.

“The exhibitors were very satisfied with the visitors,” said a spokesperson for Victam. “Exhibitors were able to have serious discussions and negotiations with their clients and new potential clients that they had met at the show. The exhibitors also commented on the very high quality of the visitors and the wide range of countries from which they came.”

Major Mei, representing the overseas division of conveying specialist Sanwei, which manufactures Guangzhou province, China, was typical of exhibitors interviewed by World Grain over the three-day event. He said his company was a regular at Victam Asia.

“Mostly, our products are for rice milling machines, grains, granules,” he explained. “Southeast Asia is a good market for us and Victam lets us meet our customers and potential customers. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are very interesting countries for us, but the whole Asia market is growing.”

Fernando Luenga, Southeast Asia sales manager for Madrid, Spain-based Symaga Silos, said that Victam was proving a highly productive exhibition.

“So far it has been great,” he said. “Yesterday and today we’ve been seeing a big influx of professionals interested in our products compared to other gatherings where maybe the public is more general.”

Salih Serter Gulsoy, export-import manager at Obial, said the “show was very good.”

“We have many customers from around Asia,” he said. “It has been really good, and we are already looking at attending the next one.”

Ludovico Bernardi, sales director of Bedeschi, which specializes in the manufacturing of complete bulk handling systems, said the company was currently working on a handling project in Turkmenistan and had recently completed the installation of a mechanical ship unloader in Venice, Italy, which would be used to handle grains.

He said grains always has been a key market for the materials handling company, which was established in 1908.

“We think we have a complete line of products for grains starting from pipe conveyors, belt conveyors of any size, and then the ability to tailor-make ship loading and ship unloading solutions for any kind of capacity and ship dimension,” he said.

Yigit Bastug, sales manager of Turkey-based Mysilo, said his company was now employing more than 600 people at its 70,000-square-meter factory and was actively seeking sales in more than 80 countries having already completed 1,500 projects in more than 68 countries.

“The Asian market, especially in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, is very interesting,” he said. “The reason we have come to Victam Asia is so we can promote our products in this region as well like we have done in South Asia. We can offer complete storage solutions for our customers based on their requirements. Also, our prices are quite cost effective and competitive due to the location of Turkey because we’re almost in the center of Europe and Asia. Also, we are offering cost-effective prices regarding the freight cost.”

Bastug said rice storage solutions for millers had been a particularly interesting market for Mysilo in Asia.

“The grains business, but especially the rice business, has changed so quickly,” he explained. “They used to store the rice in bags in most Asian countries, but more recently they have started to use grain silos for storage purposes. So, with the recent changes in the market, we are mostly focused on rice millers at the moment. All over Asia, it’s a growing market.”

Auke Markerink, commercial manager at TSC (Top Silo Constructions), a Dutch specialist in square silos, told World Grain the company’s range of products were primarily aimed at feed and food.

“You can store more in a square silo compared to round silos since with round silos you lose surface to store products on,” he said. “We’re aimed at grains, pallets, but also non-free-flowing products. So, we are present in feed milling but also in the food industry: coffee roasters, beer breweries, flour milling. But no liquids. It’s all about dry bulks.”

Representing Alapala at the trade show was Ali Cem Dagli,  sales manager for feed mill machinery. 
TSC employs a modular system so the silo can be put together like Legos once it has been constructed and shipped by container.

“We build a silo around the process,” Markerink said. “The process is always leading, and we adapt the silos to the specific situation on site. I think we can evangelize a bit more about the qualities of our products and therefore we are here to tell the world that this solution exists. There is huge potential over here in Asia.”

Bühler’s stand dominated the exhibition area and Adrian Hinderling, head of sales, Grain Logistics, was forthright about the importance of Asia to his company.

“Asia, as a whole for us, is very important,” he said. “It’s one of the key areas for Bühler, especially for grain storage. We are really focusing on the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and, of course, Southeast Asia, and Asia as a whole. And it’s clear why. We have Latin America, where it’s the emerging middle-class. In Asia is the growth of the population as well as in Africa. That’s what we put our focus on.”

Bühler offers “holistic solutions to our customers from the field to the finished product,” Hinderling said. This translates into providing solutions in origin countries such as shiploaders to Brazil, and at the opposite end of the supply chain, it means shipunloading equipment to handle imports in Asia. He said demand from the Black Sea was currently “strong,” while Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines were all fast-growing markets as consumers bought more noodles and bread.

“What we experienced here in Asia is that demand for the whole holistic solution is much higher here,” he said. “They really need someone to take care from A to Z. That is really something we can offer. And people are also increasingly aware of food safety and we can also help with that.”

Ali Cem Dagli, sales manager for feed mill machinery at Alapala, was equally bullish about the Asia market.

“Victam Asia has been very good so far,” he told World Grain. “It is very good to meet some potential customers — customers from all over the world and also from the Asia-Pacific region.”

Vigan was another prominent exhibitor, displaying its range of ship and barge loaders and unloaders and suite of mobile pneumatic conveyors. Mohamed Al Khattabi, sales director, said Asia’s rapid demand growth for handling solutions made it attractive.

“It’s one of our biggest markets after the Middle East,” he said.

Recent sales by Vigan in Asia include units for the ports of Panjin and Yingkou in China, and Calaca ports in the Philippines.

“The main improvement in our products is the capacities of our machines,” Al Khattabi said. “Six to seven years ago we supplied mainly 300 tonnes per hour, now mainly we supply 600 tonnes per hour. So, the capacity of the machines are bigger and bigger and I think the trend will be the same in the following years, especially as more panamax vessels are deployed on the grains trades.”

Representatives of Smart Grain Solutions (SGS) at the company's booth at Victam Asia.

Focus on food safety

Bipin Karnik, international sales manager for the Southeast Asia Pacific at SGS, said the growing calls for improvements in food safety in Asia had resulted in more business for the inspection, verification and certification giant, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We are actually looking at the entire supply chain for agrifood, which is also feed because feed goes into the food supply chain,” he said. “We offer services from the soil to the table for food compliance safety. That’s how we look at it.

“I think people are getting more and more aware of what they are eating. In this region, all the governments are coming up with food safety regulations. It’s making things more and more complex for people to ensure that their food is compliant, that it’s sustainable, that they have tested it for GMO, they have tested it for possible contaminants, pesticide use, mycotoxins etc.

“The focus on food safety is a major issue in this region. For us, it is important to understand where our customers are growing in terms of partnering them in their strategic development. We try to be one step ahead of what is expected.”

Mohammed Al Khattabi, sales director for Vigan, waits for customers at the company booth. 
Miguel Costa Gonzales, international client manager at Actemium, said the company was exhibiting to support its Asian units and sales force.

“We work for feed companies and we have representatives here from France, from the Netherlands, from the Philippines,” he said. “We are now here to visit our local customers. As an industry automation supplier, we provide mostly software solutions. We’re also capable of doing electrical works, but our main focus is software solutions. In Asia and also in Europe we provide software solutions for feed factories and grain factories to enable companies to vertically integrate. It’s also about increasing efficiency and traceability in the supply chain and having more data out of your system to see where you can get more benefits by improving efficiency on the production line.

“Asia is a growing market, that’s for sure. We see a lot of our major customers are moving into Asia. Not only to put in factories but also to increase their automation in existing factories.”

Bedeschi was set to commission a new pipe conveyor during April for KRK Latinoamerica for a new terminal in Rosario, Argentina. The conveyor is designed to handle soybeans and grains. A spokesperson told World Grain during Victam Asia that the company entered the Latin America market “organically” two years ago.

“Despite this short time, orders and offers are increasing every day more thanks to our promotional campaign and Bedeschi’s constant participation in all the main events and exhibitions related to handling and cereal processing sectors,” he said.

Victam Asia may have been about fast-growing markets in the region, but exhibitors also had one eye on global sales.

Michael King is a multi-award winning journalist as well as a shipping and logistics consultant. He also supplies an array of corporate services - www.mkingassociates.com. For more information, e-mail [email protected].