HAMBURG, GERMANY — The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe announced on May 8 sales of €400 million in 2013. 

The company said with this figure the group of companies was able to stabilize its development on a high level after recent growth rates of 20%. Employment was unchanged in 2013 at 850.

The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe consists of 11 independent specialist companies that develop, produce and distribute functional ingredients for food and animal nutrition. They include firms such as Hydrosol, Mühlenchemie, SternMaid, Sternchemie, SternEnzym, Herza Schokolade and Berg+Schmidt. Each of the companies has specific competence in a particular field, for example bakery or dairy products, deli foods, meat, fish, chocolate, flavorings, lecithin, enzymes or vitamins. 

A flexible structure is the basis for the high innovative power and successful development of the family business, the company said. 

“In the market for food and feed, which is expanding worldwide, our advantage over the major corporations lies in providing advice on applications, in closeness to the customer, individual product solutions and a high level of mobility on the part of our employees,” said Torsten Wywiol, who manages the holding company as its chief executive officer. 

Last year, the group invested €7 million in extending its R&D facilities. Besides the enlargement of the trial bakery and the dairy and deli food laboratory, a new enzyme laboratory was set up. 

“In order to test the functionality of active ingredients, we produce the foods on our pilot plant with equipment similar to that used by our customers on a commercial scale. For that we have installed state-of-the-art machines and testing units,” Wywiol said. 

The number of training events and trials increased by 35% compared to the previous year. 

Last year, there was vigorous demand for new developments in the field of stabilizing systems for trendy convenience products, dairy products and deli foods, for new enzyme complexes for bakery products and pasta and for sunflower lecithin and powdered deoiled lecithins. 

A new pilot plant for pasta is also stimulating growth in the field of enzymes for pasta and noodles. At HERZA Schokolade, a company with its seat in Norderstedt specializing in functional chocolate pieces for further processing and in functional bars, a new, fully automated bar production line greatly increased capacity and productivity. 

With an export share of 85%, the 11 specialist firms supply customers in over 100 countries. They are supported by 16 foreign affiliates, some of which have research and production capacities of their own. The opening of the production facilities in Turkey and India for baking and flour improvers and in Singapore and Malaysia for lecithin and palm oil fractions were milestones in the group’s international expansion last year. 

“However, because of delays in commissioning the plant we were unable to achieve the targeted results in 2013,” Wywiol said.  

The group is continuing its international orientation. For example, the affiliate SternMaid America is building a plant in Aurora, near Chicago, Illinois, U.S. The plant is one of the most modern of its kind in the U.S. A blending line and a small-unit packaging line, both fully automated, are available on an area of 3,000 m². This equipment will permit blending capacities of about 8,000 tonnes a year.

SternMaid Germany has its production facility in Wittenburg (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania) and operates as a contract manufacturer for the processing, drying, blending and filling of food ingredients and food supplements. The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe has invested €16 million in order to open up new business fields in the sphere of fluid-bed technology for food and pharmaceutical ingredients. Further investments are planned for the coming years in order to meet the increasing demand for contract manufacturing of new, functional products in the food and pharmaceutical industries. 

Thanks to the many strategic investments, Wywiol said he is confident that a successful future awaits the company in the long term. 

“As an enterprise operating internationally we are dependent on political stability in our target markets. In many important regions like Africa, South America and Russia, there was not always the necessary stability last year. That makes forecasts difficult,” Wywiol said. “But certainly ‘convenience’ in food and animal nutrition will remain a growing market worldwide. In food alone, the world market is estimated at $35 to $40 trillion. We are in a segment with a future, in which we will continually enhance the services we offer. As a family business we are not looking for short-term returns.”