Established 98 years ago by business entrepreneur Einar Viggo Schou, Palsgaard shows no signs of slowing down as one of the market leaders in emulsifiers and stabilisers for food products. Increasingly, it is bringing its skills to non-food applications such as polymer packaging, too.
Today, from its beginnings in Denmark, the company has spread around the globe, with an active presence in more than 100 countries. It shares its expertise and products within the bakery, dairy, confectionery, ice cream, fine foods, margarine and non-dairy alternative production industries.
Emulsifiers are amphiphilic molecules used to form and stabilise emulsions. Readily recognisable emulsions include mayonnaise and salad dressings, but they are also used in everything from bakery products, confectionery and ice cream, where they do more than just mix.
Other functional benefits include improving aeration, texture, and crumb structure in bakery products; preventing chocolate bloom; making ice cream creamier and more resistant to melting; and increasing shelf life and reducing fat content in a variety of foods.
Part of what makes Palsgaard so strikingly different from its competitors is the way it manages to blend, for example, the energy-intensive manufacturing of food ingredients with carbon neutrality. That's a feat no comparable producer has achieved to date.
Palsgaard was the first major ingredients producer to achieve a 100% carbon-neutral footprint not only at its main production plant but also abroad; it was the first industrial company to achieve carbon neutrality in Mexico.
This achievement is typical of the company's farsightedness - a purposeful ability to prepare itself and its customers to be competitive not just in today's world but also in new markets that may be decades away.
Throughout its existence, Palsgaard has made a long list of investments in the community and in sustainability to deliver its future-oriented vision.
Take, for example, the fact that the company became the first (and is currently the only) emulsifier manufacturer to fully implement the highest commercially deliverable level for sustainable palm oil and thus offer its full product range as SG-certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.
The segregated - or 'SG', as it is more commonly known - level requires palm oil materials to be kept separate from conventional palm ingredients throughout the supply chain.
Palsgaard's success lies partly in the fact that it is more concerned with creating long-term value than with short-term stock market pressures. That's because its founder laid the cornerstone for a socially responsible company - an entity that has since become an independent foundation.
This enables top management to conduct the business in line with a set of unwavering, socially oriented principles handed down from one CEO to the next - and all profits are reinvested in ensuring these principles are followed to the letter.
As a result, research and development, and sustainability teams at Palsgaard have unparalleled freedom to pursue their obsession with inventing and perfecting sustainably sourced, sustainably produced emulsifiers and stabilisers that bring new value to the world.
In line with Palsgaard's philosophy, no corners are cut along the road to greater social responsibility, ensuring the company's customers can fully rely on their supplier's sustainability claims. Carbon offsets, for example, are used only when all other avenues for emission reductions have been exhausted.
Palsgaard, like any other company, must also keep an eye on its business viability. "Looking to the future is part of our business strategy," says CEO Jakob Thoisen. "We're focused on products that can help food manufacturers today, and on new opportunities for tomorrow.
"Sustainability in all its aspects is part of that strategy - and it's certainly paying off in a market that is becoming increasingly aware of the need for food safety, responsible sourcing and responsible production."
Thoisen points to two key trends for which the industry needs to prepare strategically: First, more sustainable, healthier foods, and second, new ways to use emulsifier and stabiliser technology.
"Manufacturers that prepare for the future and knowhow to capitalise on whatever's coming next, are using emulsifiers as a relatively fast path to increasing product health and sustainability profiles," he says.
"Switching to fully sustainable emulsifiers is usually just a matter of simple reformulation - and, with Palsgaard's advanced emulsifier systems in the mix, there's likely to be some additional functional advantages."
For food manufacturers, Palsgaard's innovation application centres are an excellent source of inspiration. Together with the deepest expertise in the emulsifier and stabiliser world, they're helping the company's customers prepare for a more powerful future business model.
Today, there are five such centres, each serving their part of the world, and each fully equipped to reflect large-scale production. Teams of emulsifier system experts at these facilities work closely with food manufacturers to develop and refine recipes and production processes. Often, that may mean starting, for example, with the recipe for a consumer favourite from Asia, mixing it with European production practices and turning the result into an entirely new product that is able to match the preferences of Middle-Eastern consumers.
From the invention of the modern commercial emulsifier to the present date, Palsgaard is a company that has lived and breathed its founder's vision and passion for improving the science of food production, and food itself.
Today, in some form or another, a wide variety of individual products use ingredients that originated from Einar Schou's 1917 invention.
Over the years, Palsgaard has laid the groundwork for producing foods that are kosher/halal-certified, GMO-free, non-allergenic, vegan, lower-fat, trans fat-free, sugar-free and more besides. It is enabling food production to become more cost-effective, easily adaptable and controllable than ever.
To learn more about Palsgaard and what the company can do for you, please visit booth 080H4 at Food ingredients Europe on 28-30 November.