Bühler continues upward growth trend, despite ongoing global market tests

The Swiss industry equipment and solutions group, Bühler, has reported improved results for 2023, including a modest turnover increase of 1%, to CHF 3billion and net profits rising 16% to CHF 179 million, in spite of challenging background conditions in the global economy, writes Neill Barston.

CEO Stefan Scheiber acknowledged there had been ‘massive changes’ for some of its sector partners within the ingredients sector, including within the cocoa market, which he noted had rapidly increased from $3,000 a tonne, to over $5.000 within the past few weeks, which had proved a significantly disruptive factor.

However, he remained positive about the company’s progress in the past year, as the business has moved to grow its assets and operations around the world, with Americas now becoming the largest share of its activities on the basis of turnover (representing 29%).

He highlighted that there had in fact been ‘very strong demand’ within its consumer foods division, including chocolate production, as well as snacks, for which the business has developed a wide range of equipment down the years. This has included the development of its flagship ChocoX chocolate moulding line, which has attracted notable interest since its launch.

In terms of its annual results, while the company’s order intake was down, by 3.8% to CHF 3.2 billion, the company’s advanced orders for the year ahead had remained reportedly high at CHF 2 billion, offering a strong base for development of its divisions across grain and milling, consumer foods, automotive, advanced materials and service solutions.

Speaking ahead of a media launch today, CEO Stefan Scheiber noted that “We are satisfied with the outcome of 2023 and have proved again that we are a reliable partner in this dynamic world,” he explained of the Uzwil-headquartered firm’s position amid a challenging market.

Media presentation

Reflecting on the company’s overall performance at the event in Uzwil today, he noted there were many shared challenges for the wider industry, and world at large. He said: “The demand for sustainable solutions and solutions on sustainability has clearly increased over the past twelve months, and we are going to see the consequences of that now. I am very happy to report that in many facets addressed this aspect in a proactive and positive way. In Europe, digitalisation, and the start of the industrial application of AI, of course affected our business, explained the CEO, who added that the were a number of crises that the world is presently dealing with, including the war in Ukraine and Gaza that were further external factors that impacted on business conditions.

As the business noted, despite geopolitical considerations, the company’s balanced geographical footprint allowed the company to benefit from market expansions and thus offset lower business volumes in other markets. The most notable developments were strong turnover growth in the Americas and significantly lower turnover volumes in China. Overall, Bühler’s regional share of turnover was as follows: Americas 29%, Europe 28%, Asia 27%, Middle East Africa & India 16%.

Furthermore, innovation has remained critical to the company’s development, and in 2023, expenses for R&D remained at a high level at CHF 140 million (4.7% of turnover) and around 50 new customer solutions were launched.

“We see profitable growth as a prerequisite for creating positive impact for a better world. This conviction guides our investments in the future development of our company, into innovative products and services, as well as in the development, education, and training of people,” he added.

Concluding, he added: “Innovation is in the DNA of Bühler, and we have kept this high, we have done that for many years and decades, both in good and bad times. This is seen through our R&D spending every year has remained very stable at around 5%, around CHF 400 million over the past couple of years. In 2023, we launched around 50 new core products, and it was important for our company to see that these innovations were relevant, and are absorbed by the market successfully. The products we have launched in the past year represent more than 10% of our turnover for the year, which is a remarkable success, and led to increased market shares across the globe,” which he added was a strong indication of the ‘future-proofing’ of the company.

“Another interesting market is in consumer foods, with very strong demand patterns in the past year, and we have grown our business. There is demand in business units in applications for wafers, biscuits and confectionery, and we have seen interesting growth in places such as the Middle East and Africa, and India, as well as Europe. Those markets had the highest contribution for this market that is around CHF 700 million for the company.|

In terms of addition aspects of the business, the company noted it had continued to focus on training and education of both customers and employees. Customers not only benefited from training at different specialist schools on all continents, but also from the broad offering of courses in the 25 Application & Training Centres around the world. With the opening of new locations in Brazil and Switzerland in 2023.

Though the business conceded the economic climate remained volatile in 2024, it believed that it was well placed to handle anticipated challenges and could potentially benefit from new opportunities within global markets, which was reflected in a positive order book moving foward.



Related content

Leave a reply

Confectionery Production