The Resilient Raw Material: Wheat

Versatile, sustainable and crisis-proof

From farm to fork: the global corona pandemic has not only affected supply chains but also encouraged consumers to focus more on sustainability and the health benefits of foodstuffs. The raw material wheat is an indispensable nutritional component that promises added value for functional and sustainable food applications. The Plant Based World talked to Gustav Deiters, the managing partner of Crespel & Deiters Group, one of the leading producers of wheat starches and wheat proteins in Europe, about the immense potential of wheat ingredients.

Gustav Deiters

Plant Based World: Mr. Deiters, the issue of sustainability in the food industry has been on the radar for years. What has changed as a result of the pandemic?

The urgent need for sustainable action has come to the fore, as it has become apparent how fragile global value chains can be in a globalised world. In the post-corona era, manufacturers in all industrial sectors will pay more attention to the sourcing of products and will place greater emphasis on assured availability. Moreover, especially in the food industry, the demand for products with natural ingredients has increased. During the first peak of the crisis, we were able to maintain full production, as we source the raw wheat regionally. This means our supply chains are secured. Using state-of-the-art production technologies and sustainable methods, we supply highly functional wheat-based ingredients to meet consumer demand for clean label products. Due to their functionality, the natural ingredients can also improve quality and shelf life of an end product.

Plant Based World: What else do you consider to be advantageous from a sustainability perspective?

Vegetable proteins provide the best nutritional values and, compared with meat proteins, are more ecological and resource-efficient. Yet texturated wheat proteins are also perfectly suitable as plant-based meat alternatives, and wheat starches can give food a longer shelf life, thus reducing waste. When it comes to recyclability, the starch industry is a fundamental part of the value chain for both food and non-food products. The manufacture of different products means almost 100 per cent of the raw material can be used: 60% for the food industry and 40% for technical applications. Here the demand and potential for ecological alternatives is huge.

Plant Based World: Where and when can wheat products be a more sustainable alternative?

In addition to their use as a classic foodstuff, the versatility of wheat means it’s a better alternative to petrochemical ingredients for animal feed, the packaging industry, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, building materials, or for paints and coatings. Compared to synthetic and non-degradable materials, plant-based starch products can make an important contribution to climate and environmental protection issues, for example by being used as natural binders or coating systems. Renewable raw materials, which can be easily returned to nature, are often the only way to achieve a circular economy. We specialise in highly functional industrial solutions which reduce or replace the need for synthetic raw materials.

One example is corrugated board. It is 100% recyclable and can be reused up to 25 times thanks to starch-based, high-performance adhesives. Synthetic adhesives, however, would have a serious ecological impact in terms of  decomposition and the CO2 balance.

Plant Based World: What should sustainably operating companies do in order to continually improve their environmental credentials? 

The industry is being challenged to provide future-proof solutions that respond flexibly to consumer needs, while being mindful of nature and the environment. Our mission is to work towards more sustainable industrial production for an advanced circular economy. The Crespel & Deiters Group has many years of expertise in the processing of raw materials and their innovative use, as well as the reduction and replacement of fossil raw materials in the creation of non-food products. In the food sector, the aim is to increase the functionality and nutritional value of the end products while contributing to a reduction in meat consumption. 

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About Crespel & Deiters Group: 

The Crespel & Deiters Group is an owner-managed, globally active company and one of the leading producers of wheat starches and wheat proteins in Europe. The company has been producing at its headquarters in Ibbenbüren in Germany for over 160 years, using state-of-the-art technologies, sustainable processes and great innovative strength. From the wheat-based raw materials, the brands Loryma, C&D Corrugating & Paper, C&D Technical Applications, Trigea and Crespeo develop highly functional products and application-oriented solutions for customer-specific applications. They optimize the end products and create added value for customers in the food, non-food and feed industries. 

More than 380 employees work to achieve the company’s goal of high quality, responsible treatment of nature, customer orientation and reliability. At Crespel & Deiters, sustainability begins with purchasing: Only EU wheat is used, at least 75% of which comes from German cultivation. This guarantees that the raw material is free of genetically modified ingredients. In addition, the high-quality EU wheat is rich in nutrients and is characterised by high purity. The regional proximity keeps the amount of transport routes and emissions as low as possible and strengthens the local agriculture.

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