At SVZ we understand that the world is always changing, for both us and our customers. This is why we are always working to ensure we are at the forefront of innovation. But what does innovation really mean? We sat down with SVZ’s very own Head of Innovation, Mike Vermeer, to find out.

Where have you joined SVZ from?

When I started my career in IT and marketing, I soon found out that success in embracing change was all about people. For the past few decades I have worked in various innovation roles to support the transformation of companies and create a bright future. My most recent position was at Lamb Weston, the world’s second largest potato processor – this is where I discovered my love for the agro and food industry.

What does your role encompass?

Engaging with everybody across the entire SVZ business, including its customers, to find new opportunities and make them happen. Quite often organisations can get stuck with daily operations, but my role is to not only find areas for innovation but also to plan, execute and evaluate these actions.

What was it about SVZ that interested you?

Being from Breda, where SVZ is headquartered, I was struck by how a company with 150 years’ heritage could still have so much energy. SVZ is leading the way in sustainability with great products that are as close to nature as possible, really looking after the wellbeing of our planet – so joining the SVZ team was an easy choice for me.

What are your main aims for SVZ over the next 12 months?

Our innovation pipeline is actually already looking ahead beyond 2020. While we are not able to discuss any specific plans at the moment, we are currently laying down our roadmap to the future which will see us expanding our relationships with customers to find out what’s cooking in their kitchens and how we can support them. With natural and plant-based products so hot in the industry right now, we know that there is even more we can be doing with stronger collaborations to lead the way.

What does innovation mean to you?

I believe that innovation plays a dominant role for a bright future. The challenges faced across the globe can only be solved through innovation, hard work and fun.

SVZ innovation strategy is focusing on four interconnected domains, namely Concept Development, Advanced Value Chains, New Business Models and Social Innovation.

Our cross-functional Innovation Platform oversees all major activities and transformation towards a bright future.

With the support of our Royal Cosun Innovation Center and the in-depth knowledge of agronomy and supply chain in our ecosystem, we have strong innovation fundaments for creating growing shared value.

What companies do you think are leading the way in innovation?

Obviously you have to mention the giants such as Apple, but for me it’s the small, non-conventional start-ups that are more interesting. Big companies could learn a lot by observing the young, aggressive companies that are serving emerging markets, which is why I love collaborating with such businesses.

When you’re not innovating at SVZ, what do you like to do in your spare time?

In my role I am lucky enough to spend a lot of time travelling, but this does meant that my spare time calls for priority! But when I have some downtime I’m a real foodie, I love researching recipes, going to the market to select the best fresh ingredients and then making meals for my family and friends. With the international travel I’ve been on over the years, I’ve also found myself exploring my local area more at weekends and going on adventures closer to home with my family.

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