November 30, 2014

Gerard Klein Essink, Director, Bridge2Food

Gerard Klein Essink is Director at Bridge2Food, which is located in Bilthoven, The Netherlands. The Bridge2Food company was founded in 2002 to provide research & consultancy services in fast-moving consumer categories. In recent years, international recognition has led to us developing platforms on food category trends such Sports & Performance Nutrition, Healthy Ageing, Healthy & Nutritional Bars, Ingredients with a specific protein focus and on Food Technology for food technology professionals.

What is Bridge2Food and how did it come about?

I have founded Bridge2Food in 2002 as a research and consultancy company. During the last 7 years we have gradually evolved into an insights, personal development and network company. The basis of the company is the large international food value chain network in retail, manufacturing, ingredients and technology.

Why did you see an opportunity here and what are your ultimate goals for Bridge2Food?

I have always loved to accelerate innovation, and connecting and enabling people. Being able to connect the dots and make this faster is fun and rewarding. Sometimes in life you only realise later what the red thread through your work and life is, and I could connect the dots at Bridge2Food. Opportunities are things one sees earlier and faster than another. It is then key to fully embrace them, focus on quality and then just do it. I favour the quote of Michael Kottler: 'it is more important to do what is strategically right than what is immediately profitable'.
The goal of Bridge2Food is to play an important role in the growth of innovation and personal development of companies and professionals in the food industry. We want to be the place where professionals are inspired, can develop personally and grow their networks.

What activities is it carrying out and how might they develop in the future?

We are organising platform meetings with the industries involved in sports and performance nutrition, bars and grains snacks, and healthy ageing, as well as proteins. The protein industry is heavily involved in the areas of global supply & demand, health & nutritional, and technology and new raw material opportunities at our annual Protein Summits. These are relevant platforms for the food, aquaculture, feed, pet food industries. Food proteins courses and a Top Class on protein nutrition are other development platforms.
We foresee opportunities to open up our networks to professionals for further personal development. There are more and more demands on professionals to be more entrepreneurial. Open innovation and working with others across the value chain and industries is important and we can play a role since Bridge2Food has a large network, is known for quality and we have an international position.

What type of companies should support the organisation and what contribution should they make?

We work already together with food manufacturers, ingredient and technology companies, universities and research institutes across the globe. We are very open in the space of proteins to further develop and grow collaborations. We can provide organisations a good platform for access to market, for sharing their ideas, new developments and innovations through our meetings and digital networks, such as LinkedIn, with the larger world of professionals. Or help them to get in touch with the decision makers. These organisations can help us to increase the awareness of our activities and networks and grow it with us. Together we can make te world smaller and better.

Can you explain some of the exciting developments that your activities have highlighted?

We are proud for our role in protein space. At our protein summits new collaborations and innovation projects have started in the pulses and other vegetable protein arena. Large companies like Buhler, Cargill, Nestle working with Pulse Canada and CIGI in Canada on developing new standards. Likewise, we have been instrumental in putting proteins on the international agenda through research and consultancy activities. And each time the personal feedback of professionals on the quality of what we do is most rewarding.

Is this a global organisation or European-based only?

We are based in The Netherlands, yet we operate in the USA, in Europe and also in Asia with activities related to proteins. We also see growth opportunity in Europe and Asia. 

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