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'Proactive approach' key to staying relevant in dairy: NIZO

By Mark Astley+

20-Dec-2013

Netherlands-based NIZO has been conducting dairy industry research for 65 years.
Netherlands-based NIZO has been conducting dairy industry research for 65 years.

In order to remain relevant after 65 years in the dairy industry, NIZO Food Research has adopted a more “proactive approach” to its work, CEO Ad Juriaanse told DairyReporter.com.

The Netherlands-based research organization, which recently celebrated its 65 year anniversary, was established, simply as NIZO, by the Dutch dairy industry as a quality and safety control institute in 1948.

It later moved into other areas including product innovation, and is credited with the initial development of Kernhemmer, Leerdammer and Parrano cheese.

“Initially, Dutch dairies were all making the same products and there was no competition at all. At that time, R&D was done by NIZO because dairy manufacturers didn’t do R&D in house. Then came the age of consolidation, where they became bigger and started doing their own R&D.”

“Nowadays it is different. Manufacturers already know a lot. So we are really pushing a proactive approach,” he said.

“Now we ask them, ‘Did you ever consider doing this?’.”

NIZO Food Research CEO, Ad Juriaanse.

Staying relevant

“Our interaction with the industry has changed,” said Juriaanse, detailing the “tools” NIZO has employed to remain relevant in the industry.

“First is interaction with the industry itself,” he said.

“The other is developing and applying technologies that our clients don’t have in-house themselves.”

While the company’s efforts have been somewhat successful – NIZO posted record turnover earlier this year – remaining relevant requires constant work, said Juriaanse.

“It was hard work I can tell you. And it still is. On top of this, many companies have been closing down on external costs, which we depend on.”

Despite changing the way it interacts with the industry, Juriaanse said that the area it covers has not changed.

“There is remarkable continuity in the areas we cover – things like quality, safety, cost, protein, fermentation and taste. These will remain the focus for the dairy industry.”

Further internationalization

Since its creation, the company has itself gone through a number of significant changes.

In the mid-1990s, it changed its name to NIZO Food Research – an indication of its move beyond dairy. It then moved to prove its independence by becoming a private company in 2003 and through a management buy-out in 2009, and has now set its sights on international growth.

“We are seeing acceleration in our international customer base,” said Juriaanse. “At the moment, around 60% of our clients are non-Dutch.”

“We need to go global. We already have representatives in the US, France and Japan.”

“Further internationalization will take place in the next few years,” he said.

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