Walter Rau is a family-owned vegetable oil refinery ideally located in the densely populated area between the rivers of the Rhine and Ruhr in Neuss, Germany. Business unit manager Bernd Brinkmann discusses how the company aims to stay ahead in a competitive business, and how it guarantees its oils are the healthiest and most stable around.
Bernd Brinkmann: For more than 100 years, Walter Rau has provided its service to its main customers in the food business. The strength of the company lies in its people, versatile technology and flexibility to adapt to the changing challenges from customers.
We're proud to supply the world's largest fast-food restaurant chain, as well as the producers of world-famous fries, with healthy frying oil. Cool-melting filled chocolates and pralines, crispy nut-filled wafers and candy bars of the leading confectionery companies are also produced using some of our oils. We're also in the more traditional German baking industry and dairy business.
We don't make a secret of our passion for brands and good products. Our mission statement, 'Your brands in best hands', is manifested in the minds of all our staff. More than 10% of our employees are working in our customer solution centre, covering marketing, product management, R&D, application service and quality management. Our innovative approach has been recognised in the TOP100 Innovator 2015 award, which is a yearly benchmark study looking at SMEs, also known as the 'German Mittelstand'. Our customers like our team spirit and flexibility. We're good listeners and always look for sustainable solutions rather than quick wins. That's why many of our customers have trusted us for decades already.
We respect our business partners, whether they are a supplier or customer. A stable supply chain can only be built on trust and long-term commitments. Too much pressure on suppliers does not necessarily yield good, stable solutions. A little challenge is good, but people have to remain fair and open to achieve a win-win situation for all partners in the chain.
I'm glad you've asked that - it's a brilliant example of building trust. We've worked with Dow Agro Science for a long time and discuss very openly what we need for our customers, and they do their very best to deliver well-performing oils with proven quality. The other side of the success is our modern refining technology and our strict quality management. For verification, we often engage in R&D projects with universities or independent laboratories.
We're closely monitoring what health experts and authorities around the globe are publishing, and reflect and incorporate it into our know-how. We actively engage in working groups on health issues related to our business and have, for example, helped to develop new guidelines regarding trans-fatty acids for a variety of foodstuffs such as confectionery, snacks, deep-fried potato products, doughnuts and many more. We take part in conferences covering health issues, and stay in close contact with research institutions and our industrial associations, nationally and on a European level.
We do have a kind of market radar - we observe patent literature and new products appearing on the market. A lot of information is gathered via internet-based sources such as newsletters, alerts and specialised reports. Internally, our IT provides a Microsoft SharePoint solution that we use to post all kinds of news and interesting issues for keeping our colleagues up to date.
Furthermore, we do a lot of internal research into our processing conditions and control them in the most careful way, keeping or even enhancing natural functionality.