Powder raw material mixer Huijbregts Groep: “We strive for operational excellence”
When it comes to food safety and quality, Schouten leaves nothing to chance. That is why we only work with suppliers who embrace our way of working. Powder raw material mixer Huijbregts Groep is one of those suppliers. Commercial Director Hein Hamelijnck: “Like Schouten, we are a family business that has stood for quality, openness, safety and corporate social responsibility for many years. We are very similar in that way.”
The Huijbregts Groep is one of the world’s top companies that mix powder raw materials. Hein proudly says, “There is a good chance that you have eaten something today that has been processed in our factory. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people a week eat something that contains powder raw materials that we have mixed.” The Huijbregts Groep makes the premixes for Schouten, which are added to vegetables and wheat and pea proteins for a Vegetable Burger, for example.
Recipe for success
The success story of the Huijbregts Groep begins in 1936, when the father of the current director Frans Huijbregts started mixing in a garage in Eindhoven. Nicole Swinkels-Meulendijks, General Affairs Manager: “He won the trust of butchers, got their recipes, and then started making herbal blends and mixes for them.”
In the picture: Nicole Swinkels-Meulendijks, Manager General Affairs
Frans has been in charge since 1980. He took the company to a higher level and made the industrialization as a powder raw material mixer for the meat and snack industry, among others. Hein: “He was one of the first in the industry to open up the recipes. He also provided insight into the price calculation. Other herbal suppliers did not always thank him for this, but our customers did appreciate that transparency.”
In the picture: son Willem and father Frans.
It has been years since the Huijbregts Groep decided to stop focusing on product development, but solely on producing for others. Hein explains, “Customers like Schouten are much stronger in product development themselves. They have the creative product developers in-house. We focus on our operational excellence.”
“In addition, we think it is important that customers feel safe with us. The recipe they provide to us is sacred to us. If you develop products yourself and you receive recipes from customers, it is difficult not to side-eye those recipes. That is precisely why we do not develop ourselves. However great the competition between some customers may be, they always know that we keep everything 100% separate.”
In the picture: Hein Hamelijnck, Commercial Director
Huijbregts Groep strictly adheres to the recipe, so that their customers and, in turn, the end consumers can always count on the same product quality. Hein: “We are quite formal. If Schouten wants us to use brand A potato starch, we keep it in stock. In this way we safeguard the standard recipe.”
Or do they never secretly use anything else? Nicole: “Absolutely not. We have a high level of integrity. We say what we do and do what we say. We only want to switch if we have delivery problems, but we always do that in consultation with the customer.”
Grip on quality
Nothing goes in or out of the factory at the Huijbregts Groep unseen. Hein: “All raw materials supplied are sampled. From salt to sugar — everything is checked and must be right. The same goes for our final mixes. Before they leave the factory, we taste and smell them, and we make an infrared scan. Did something go wrong during production or during the delivery of the raw materials, for example due to an incorrect label? Then we will overcome that.”
Huijbregts’ production process is already smartly designed to prevent errors in production. “As one of the few in our industry, we even have the option of wet cleaning in between. If something has to be halal or kosher, we do a wet clean, and we can continue within half an hour.”
In addition to quality, all attention is also paid to food safety. Hein: “We have a hazard analysis system and are audited by Riskplaza every year. Those auditors are here for three to five days and check all raw materials whether we have secured the hazards.”
Like Schouten, the Huijbregts Groep is also involved in corporate social responsibility. In Helmond, for example, they have their own business school. Hein: “We train our employees ourselves. For example, we have hygiene and allergen training, and we offer people Dutch language training. We would like to see people in the workplace speak Dutch. At the same time, they can also benefit from this privately.”
Huijbregts has been audited and certified by PSO Nederland (Performance Ladder Social Entrepreneurship): “As a family business, we also want to be there for people with a distance to the labour market, trainees, and students. As far as we are concerned, not everything has to be based on margin. Just like Schouten, we also want to do something good.”
What is good today can always be better tomorrow. That is why the Huijbregts Groep pays a lot of attention to innovation. Nicole: “We mainly focus on process optimisation. For example, we want more and more product contact surfaces that are 100% interchangeable and can be cleaned quickly.”
Hein adds: “That Spanish production location is in itself a wonderful innovation. With our two factories, we can now serve more customers in Europe on a day-to-day basis. This way they can order today and have it delivered tomorrow.”
According to the Huijbregts Groep, a bright future lies ahead when it comes to the collaboration with Schouten. Hein: “That collaboration has been going on for so long. We have grown with Schouten from a vegan pioneer to the plant-based forerunner they are today. Boards of both parties meet regularly to discuss future trends and market opportunities and to exchange ideas.”
“The cooperation between the Purchasing, Sales, and QA departments also runs smoothly in day-to-day operations. Is there anything that can be done better? That together we share even more information and knowledge, so that we can serve Schouten—and indirectly their customers—even better. That desire is there from both sides.”
Would you like to know more about us or about our suppliers? Or are you curious about what we can do for you? Please contact your regular point of contact at Sales. Just like with our suppliers, we are happy to work with you.