Our Managing Director, Christoph Kind, speaks about customer expectations, ZHU’s view of its role and the reasons why new partners should get in touch.
Graduate Engineer, Technical University of Berlin
MBA, Kellogg College, Northwestern University (Chicago)
More than 20 years’ experience in the food and drink industry
What makes you different from other sugar traders?
“We offer complete solutions with regard to sugar. Thanks to our broad knowledge of sugar trading, we can offer our customers an unmatched level of service. We are building on more than 100 years of experience – ensuring that our portfolio ranges from beet sugar and cane sugar through to palm sugar, a variety with particular nutritional and physiological characteristics. When we began to produce liquid sugar, we were pioneering the process so that liquid sugar is now a natural part of our product range. We have set ourselves the goal of creating market transparency for our customers in the sugar sector.”
In your promotions, you emphasise the diversity of your sugars – what is so special about that aspect?
“We want to be able to offer our customers the sugar that is appropriate for their specific area of application. Many companies producing food or drink know too little about the diverse properties of sugar. Cane sugar, for example, is often an economical alternative to beet sugar. Both of these involve sucrose. This is where our experience in the use of sugar comes into its own. We don’t simply sell you sugar – we sell the particular sugar that is most appropriate for your area of application. This is why we offer beet and can sugar in various refinement grades, from white to golden and dark brown.”
How do your customers benefit from your network?
“With our partners, we very effectively cater for the special requirements of our customers. Globally, we have enjoyed well-established relationships with suppliers for decades now. With the help of our capable logistics and distribution partners we can ensure rapid and reliable deliveries. With Cavendish & Harvey, we also have an experienced confectionary company within the Group. Thanks this broad range of experience, we can share knowledgeable advice with our customers in the food and drink sector. If you ask us to supply you with sugar, then you won’t just be provided with sugar but will also receive sound advice on its applications based on our wealth of experience. All of this ensures that our customers enjoy clear advantages in respect of their competitors, as they benefit from diversity and specialisation from one supplier when dealing with us.”
What can I expect from you as a producer?
“With our support, producers gain access to new sales opportunities within Europe. We offer a partnership based on mutual respect and fair payments. In Europe, we enjoy a wide reach within the food and drink industry and, as a result, benefit from constant demand for our sugar. We want to work together with the producers on ideas for market development, for our mutual benefit. Growing together is our goal. This is why we are interested in long-term cooperation.”
In Europe and the US, sugar is now being blamed for the obesity suffered by a large number of people. What’s your view on that?
“As with all of the foodstuffs we consume, what’s important is the right quantity and a balanced approach. It goes without saying that the excessive consumption of sugar is unhealthy! I personally take the public criticisms very seriously. We need to tackle this issue within society. In my opinion, all of us are primarily responsible for our own health. For me, this means that we should consciously think about what’s good for us. If a person consumes litres of soft drinks every day, this will be bad for them, and in the long term they will also see their health suffer. The film “Super Size Me” provides a striking illustration of this. The same applies, however, to salt and fat, for instance.
In my view, it’s questionable that only sugar should be singled out as the cause of obesity. Consider the example of Brazil, which is not only the world’s largest sugar producer but also has the highest annual per capita consumption of sugar, at 62.5 kg. Despite this, the obesity rate is around 13% for men and approximately 17% for women. Fundamentally, of course, that is too high. However, if we look at the United States, where the average annual sugar consumption is 32kg, the obesity rate among men is 33% and among women 37%. I think that clearly shows there are many factors involved in the obesity crisis.”
You emphasise your partnership-based approach to business. What do you mean by that?
“We aim to grow together with our customers and partners. We have a cooperative attitude and conduct business in line with the traditional principles of being an “honest trader”. We aim to maintain long-term business relationships and cooperation based on trust. This approach has worked very well for us so far. We have a stable, trusting relationship with our many long-standing customers. The same applies to our suppliers, with whom we cooperate closely. This is something we want to see continue, as it’s the basis for our more than 100 years of trading and success.”
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