Key Business Outlooks For 2024 (9/10): Gerard Muermans & Roland Kals, CEOs, Rademaker BV

The year 2023 has brought more international turmoil, supply chain disruption and historic inflation all over the globe, putting a lot of pressure on the baking industry. Concerns about the availability of raw materials, the cost of energy, transport capacity, regulations, labor shortage and purchasing power had companies and professionals worried and looking for solutions.

That is what we see in these interviews with top managers from the most important industry players: the industry fought back and invested in research and development to provide sustainable solutions that address these challenges.

For 2024, representatives of some of the most important equipment and ingredients manufacturing companies talk in unison about sustainability, automation, energy-saving technology, traceability and working for the customers, to make sure their access to good bakery products is unhindered by the setbacks of the world. None of the viewpoints shared with us is lacking in hope, an essential attribute for a long-term winning business.

Conventional food production systems have enjoyed uninterrupted growth over the last few decades. While this trend is expected to continue in the short term, resource constraints may dampen expansion in the long term. Furthermore, the sector is increasingly ripe for disruption.

It is up to the bakers, transporters and retailers to find the right way to stay profitable and capitalize on the market opportunities that await them in 2024.

Gerard Muermans & Roland Kals, CEOs, Rademaker BV

Considering the market volatility, the bottleneck of resources, the energy crisis, the increasing prices and workforce scarcity, what does this past year look like for your company when you draw the line?

The year 2023 indeed presented its challenges. While direct supply chain disruptions were mostly manageable due to actions taken in previous years, customer-initiated delays, such as those resulting from “buildings not ready” or unexpected time-consuming local government procedures, posed challenges for (re)planning installations. The energy crisis appeared to be less of an issue for most of our customers as energy prices dropped again and stabilized. Concerning workforce issues, this has driven many customers to invest in automated production lines, in which Rademaker is a market leader.

What are your expectations for next year, keeping in mind the legacy of 2023, but also the current challenges?

The outlook for 2024 is positive, as the scarcity of labor continues to drive customers towards automated solutions provided by Rademaker. Investments made in the previous year should have prepared the organization to meet this high demand.

How do you estimate the market will evolve and what is your priority list for 2024?

We expect a positive development compared to 2023, although high interest rates might lead to cautious and therefore lengthy considerations in investments, particularly in certain geographical areas.

Where did the growth opportunities come from and what is the most important lesson you have learned in recent times?

Growth is seen over the entire line of Rademaker Products, both in the highly industrial segment as in the mid-range/semi-industrial segment. Geographical difference will obviously occur. Our most important lesson is understanding the significance of staying connected and maintaining faith, especially during difficult and uncertain times.

What do you consider to be the most valuable asset you have in 2024 as a company?

The Rademaker employees are our most valuable asset. They cultivate relationships with our customers, enabling us to make a difference in the market together.

Read the rest of the story in the January / February edition of European Baker & Biscuit.

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