Bühler seeks sustainable solutions for food security and safety in South Africa, Africa

Process solutions provider Bühler Southern Africa seeks to leverage the group’s global experience and innovation expertise, as well as its well-established position in South Africa, to provide its customers with sustainable solutions that can contribute to meeting the food security challenges of the country and the region.

The company is committed to safe and clean processes throughout the food value chain.

This was highlighted by the Managing Director of Bühler Southern Africa. Marco Sutter in an exclusive interview with Engineering News last week.

Bühler, headquartered in Switzerland, has been present in South Africa since 1972 and employs around 220 people in the country.

Its local office in Johannesburg offers the following services: sales and service, project execution, manufacturing and logistics.

The company also has fuel stations in Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as Lusaka, Zambia, and Maputo, Mozambique. These stations provide customers with spare and wear parts, as well as die re-canning and remanufacturing services.

Sutter emphasized that, in line with Bühler’s motto “Innovations for a better world”, the group innovates new ideas, products and learning methods based on the market challenges it identifies for the respective regions.

Bühler spends around 5% of its annual turnover on research and development, a figure it has maintained even during Covid-19, and this will continue, Sutter said.

Bühler claims that approximately two billion people consume food produced on Bühler equipment every day; and a billion people travel in vehicles made from parts produced with Bühler solutions, meaning the group has a huge responsibility to ensure safety and security.

“Bühler aims to support its customers with cutting-edge technologies and solutions capable of ensuring food safety for all. Africa, at the group level, is one of the main focus areas,” Sutter emphasized.

Sutter highlighted that the group’s more than 50-year history in the country has resulted in a deep understanding of the local market and corn processing, as well as a close connection with the mining industry, the latter being another industry supplied by the group.

He highlighted that the group has highly localized customer service solutions, adapting and adjusting its portfolio to meet local needs and demands.


Sutter highlighted that food security is a considerable concern for Africa, with statistics showing a burgeoning population and a shortage of arable land to meet projected demand for agricultural production.

He explained that in terms of global distribution of population and arable land, Africa is actually the most balanced in the world. Rather, the challenge lies in the loss of grain throughout the value chain, he explained.

Sutter pointed out that a significant amount of around 30% is lost, due to various factors along the value chain.

For example, farmers may mishandle grain. Losses can also occur during transport from the field to the silos.

Alternatively, grain stored in bags rather than silos risks being eaten by birds and insects. At the manufacturing end of the value chain, inefficient milling processes can lead to losses due to not the optimal quantity being extracted from the beans.

“We’re looking at the entire value chain, from field to fork, and seeing where we can actually close the loss gap,” Sutter said.

He said the war between Ukraine and Russia had sparked a debate over food security on the continent, with Africa, as the majority importer of wheat, being hit by the lack of exports from those countries.

This has prompted the African Union and the African Development Bank to delve deeper into issues related to food security, exploring how the region could become more self-reliant and even boost its exports.

Sutter stressed that for Africa to become more self-sufficient, the continent should focus on strengthening its exports rather than increasing its imports. He stressed that Africa is considered the future of food security because of its fertile soil.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that we use this capital as a benefit to the African continent on a global scale. »


Sutter emphasized that the group’s main responsibility is to find sustainable solutions.

He stressed the importance of having “state-of-the-art,” safe and clean storage facilities and milling processes for a country’s staple foods.

Sutter explained that safety refers, first and foremost, to food safety, without cross contamination or cases of foreign materials; and secondly, operational security.

He also mentioned the importance of evaluating suitable locations for food security projects that respond to population growth and demographics.

Sutter also stressed the importance of cleaning grains early in the process, to remove toxins early on and prevent them from entering the food chain and posing health risks.

Digital machines are also an important trend currently for the food industry, providing transparency, traceability, real-time analysis and enabling calculated business decisions, Sutter explained.

He also stressed the need for efficient treatment facilities.

Sutter suggested comprehensive food parks as a solution that could offer significant benefits to Africa, which globally struggles with infrastructure challenges, manifested in underdeveloped roads, power supply problems and poor accessibility.

Food parks, where everything is produced in one place and distributed to different cities, would increase efficiency and make business sense, Sutter said.

Sutter emphasized the importance of education and awareness as essential elements of these efforts, improving the skills of Bühler staff and its customers and engaging with various stakeholders.

To this end, the group engages with all relevant stakeholders, from farmers to those in the fast-moving consumer goods industry, government and corporate levels.

He also participates in workshops and summits to understand what the biggest concerns of governments and industries are.

Bühler also uses its three training centers in Africa (located in Kenya, Nigeria and Abidjan) to test more efficient processes with its customers.


Sutter emphasized the importance of sustainability to the group as it seeks to develop solutions.

As a technology partner to the food, feed and mobility industries, Bühler is committed to delivering solutions ready to scale by 2025, reducing energy, waste and water by 50% in its customers’ value chains.

It also proactively collaborates with suppliers to reduce climate impacts throughout the value chain. In its own operations, Bühler has developed a pathway to achieve a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scopes 1 and 2, compared to a 2019 baseline).

Sutter pointed out that the group could undertake an analysis of a product’s entire supply chain, see how much CO2 is produced and discern how this can be reduced.

The group’s environmental and social strategy is reflected in its local operations. The Johannesburg sales and service facility has been powered entirely by solar energy since last year, following a seven-year plan to reduce energy consumption. The group is also ramping up solar power in its Cape Town operations.

It also has a strong focus on increasing the number of female engineers, as well as supporting students through a four-year apprenticeship program in the group’s local operations.

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