Jordi Ferre of Alvinesa talks to Catherine Weetman about creating valuable natural ingredients using waste from the wine industry.
You may be surprised to learn that, Instead of becoming waste for landfill, grape skins and other unused parts of grapes from the wine-making process can then go on to create important ingredients to support healthy living, which are used in supplements, foods and beverages.
Alvinesa Natural Ingredients based in Spain, is a “circular economy” leader of sustainable plant-based ingredients. New Chief Executive Jordi Ferre is leading the expansion of Alvinesa’s plant-based ingredients into the global food and nutrition markets.
Jordi is an accomplished C-suite business leader who brings a strong commercial and operations background in the food sector, covering B2C as well as value-added food ingredients and agritech.
Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer. Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started. Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).
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Links we mention in the episode:
- A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business – buy from any good bookseller, or direct from the publisher Kogan Page, which ships worldwide (free shipping to UK and US) and you can use discount code CIRCL20 to get 20% off. It’s available in paperback, ebook and Kindle. If you buy it from online sources, make sure you choose the new edition with an orange cover!
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- Alvinesa Website: https://www.alvinesa.com/en/
- Alvinesa on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/alvinesanaturalingredients
- Alvinesa on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlvinesaNatural
- Alvinesa on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDoLcypplDEgFgiHlg0wtNQ
- Jordi Ferre LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordi-ferre-897533/
- Catherine’s Alvinesa Case Study on the UKMSN+ website https://www.ukmsn.ac.uk/post/case-study-alvinesa
About Jordi Ferre, Chief Executive Officer, Alvinesa Natural Ingredients
Jordi Ferre is an accomplished C-suite business leader with a strong commercial and operations background in the food sector including B2C (business to consumer) as well as the value-added food ingredients and agritech sectors. He holds dual citizenship in the United States and Spain, having lived and worked in the U.S. for the past two decades.
Mr. Ferre joined Alvinesa Natural Ingredients in September 2021. He was most recently CEO of AgroFresh Solutions, a Nasdaq-listed global leader of post-harvest solutions that extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables. Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer of PureCircle, the leading producer and innovator of great-tasting stevia ingredients. Prior positions include Vice President, Sales & Marketing SPLENDA® Sucralose at Tate & Lyle; as well as various B2C positions at Wise Foods, Chupa Chups and Warner Lambert.
Mr. Ferre holds a BBA-MBA degree from Esade Business School and completed the Program for Management Development (PMD) at IESE Business School, both located in Barcelona, Spain.
Alvinesa Natural Ingredients is a “circular economy” leader of sustainable plant-based ingredients. The company upcycles and transforms agricultural coproducts into valuable natural ingredients that promote healthy living. Alvinesa sells an extensive range of natural products made from wine grape pomace, including organic, for use in the food, beverage, nutrition, animal nutrition and wine-making industries. The portfolio includes a wide selection of polyphenols (plant compounds with antioxidant activity), colors (anthocyanins), natural tartaric acid, grapeseed oil and alcohols.
Alvinesa controls a sustainable, traceable, and waste prevention supply chain. The company sources the highest quality, no- and low- pesticide grape pomace mainly from Spain’s fertile Castilla-La Mancha wine and Catalonia wine regions. Alvinesa transforms the raw materials it sources into ingredients that are used to produce a range of mostly consumer products for global markets. In this way, Alvinesa preserves global food supplies by not destroying food to make ingredients. Applying thirty years of technical expertise, the company manufactures all products to unsurpassed quality standards at its low carbon footprint, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Instead of chemical solvents, only water is used for extraction, which preserves natural goodness. Alvinesa generates a high percentage of its energy requirements renewably onsite: 100% of steam energy (by producing its own biomass), and up to 30% of electricity (via solar power).
Alvinesa has a global presence, exporting to more than 15 countries. Visit Alvinesa.com to learn more.
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Catherine Weetman 00:01
What happens to grapes after the winemaking process? Hello, and welcome to the circular economy podcast, where we find out how circular approaches are better for people, planet, and prosperity. I’m Catherine Weetman, of Rethink Global. And I’ll be chatting to those people making the circular economy happen. rethinking how we design, make and use everything. We’ll talk to entrepreneurs and business owners, social enterprises and leading thinkers. You’ll find the shownotes links and transcripts at Circular Economy podcast.com where you can subscribe to updates and to our monthly edition of circular insights. Welcome back, it’s episode 79. Thanks so much to those of you who got in touch to say how much you’d enjoyed the last episode with Colin Church of IOM3. When we talked about a few of the big picture issues relating to materials of all kinds. We’d love to hear your feedback. And of course, we’re grateful for those of you who leave a positive review in your podcast app, or recommend us to your friends and colleagues. It really helps spread the word on the circular economy. onto today’s episode, you may be surprised to learn that instead of becoming wasteful landfill, grape skins and other unused parts of grapes from the winemaking process can then go on to create important ingredients to support healthy living, which are used in supplements, foods and beverages. Alvinesa natural ingredients based in Spain is a circular economy leader of sustainable plant based ingredients. New chief executive Jordi Ferre is leading the expansion of Alvinesa plant based ingredients into the global food and nutrition markets. Jordi is an accomplished C suite business leader who brings us a strong commercial and operations background in the food sector, covering business to consumer, as well as value added food ingredients and agri tech. Have a listen. And I’ll catch up with you afterwards with what I took away from our conversation. Jody, welcome to the circular economy podcast.
Jordi Ferre 02:26
Catherine, thank you very much for having me.
Catherine Weetman 02:29
Yeah, and maybe we could start by asking what Alvinesa does?
Jordi Ferre 02:34
So what Alvinesa does is take grape pomace from the wine producing process, basically what’s discarded from the wine producing process, and turn that into valuable ingredients for food for using food. And I think it’s important to understand that this is done in a very sustainable manner, first of the origin of taking a product that otherwise will be discarded, that will become a big environmental problem. You take that? So that’s the sustainability story. But then what do you do with that product is what’s more remarkable, because you actually create high value, food ingredients, and natural ingredients. So I think that’s the double thing that we do we take organic matter that otherwise will be discarded and turn it into value.
Catherine Weetman 03:31
So in the wine industry, generally then, what would happen what what kind of waste? Are we talking about? Is it just skins? Or is it batches of wine that hadn’t worked out what what kind of inputs?
Jordi Ferre 03:46
A little bit of both you had the first cycle of production during the time of harvest right away. In the winemaking process, basically, you take out the liquid, you take out the substance, and all that is dry matter or matter there is not obviously yes, dry matter is actually discarded because you don’t use that for the winemaking. So you first take that wine matter. That’s what they call grape pomace. And then that’s the first stream of raw material that we take. And then there’s a second stream, like you said, is that once the bodegas or the wine, wineries start producing the wine is cetera, there are some there are some dry matters that are left in the tanks of the wine that otherwise will be discarded. So we on a second round, we actually collect those. And we actually extract value from those. So really, it goes from the beginning of the season, through the whole winemaking process we don’t leave anything to waste.
Catherine Weetman 04:57
Yeah, that sounds interesting.
Jordi Ferre 04:58
And that second part that That matter is called lees for those that may know that there’s a lees that was left in that bottom of that tank where the wind is made.
Catherine Weetman 05:09
So the what’s left from the pressings, then when we’ve pressed the wind and got the liquid out, that’s the pomace. And then the sediment at the bottom of the fermenting tanks, which in some cases, you end up with a bit of in in your wine bottle, sometimes, though, not very often these days. Right? And the idea is to avoid drinking that because it’s a good way of getting headaches. So that sediment is called that called the lees.
Jordi Ferre 05:40
The lees. Yes, that’s a sediment that’s left. That’s very well put.
Catherine Weetman 05:45
So so how unusual is there? So you’re doing this in in Spain? For quite a few, but acres or wineries in your region? And does that happen? Do you? Do you know that that happens in other countries? Or is it something that’s still pretty unusual?
Jordi Ferre 06:05
So I will say this, I’m going to answer you in two ways. It’s very usual. But it’s very unusual. And I’m going to explain myself. The industry of extracting from grape pomace has existed for over 100 years. There are different companies that do that. Typically, the structure of those companies will be relatively small factories or distilleries like they call it. And the main goal of that was to, to extract the alcohol from the grape pomace. Typically, those will be close to the to the wineries it will be typically in a urban enclave. So it was a very small operations that were mainly geared to extract alcohol,
Catherine Weetman 07:05
and alcohol, for what purpose for industrial purposes, or today,
Jordi Ferre 07:08
the alcohol is used for both industrial. So it’s useful bio ethanol, which call industrial alcohol, but also there is obviously alcohol that’s used to do brandy to do port, and other speciality liquors. Right. So you got that. And that’s the traditional part of this industry. What’s unusual is the way we do it at all, Vanessa, because what Albinus is different from any other distillery around the world is our sheer size. So just to give you a little bit of an idea, we can process up to 300,000 metric tonnes of polymers in our plant here in the centre of Spain, I think the closest distillery in the world that you would have may do 100,000. So that’s a lot bigger. But most important, we do finish the ingredients in house. In other words, we do most of our ingredients here. So from A to Zed, we can produce those, typically the other distilleries that exist around the world, not only they would be smaller, but what they would do mainly is to extract the alcohol, and take a bunch of intermediate products that will be sold to other manufacturers that will transform it further. So what we do differences, the volume, and also the way that we valorize. And from a sustainable standpoint, you don’t have to move product around, we just do it in the same place. To your question, what’s Spain versus other countries, it’s obvious that the main wine regions in the world are in southern Europe, you got some in the southern hemisphere as well, Argentina, Chile, of course, you got California, and you got Australia, but the main wine regions are in Europe. And typically what’s interesting is in Spain in the centre of Spain, where we are located in Casa la Mancha, that’s the highest concentration of wineries in the world. So although maybe the wines here do not have the name of other origins, regions like Rio here in Spain or other places like this, from a sheer volume perspective, this is pomace is extremely abundant here. And that’s a very important thing to be close to raw material. So that’s what I say it’s usual, but it’s really unusual the way we do it.
Catherine Weetman 09:31
And the closeness that’s important, presumably not just from the perspective of the logistics cost, but also because the product is deteriorating. So the faster you get into the system, the better. So maybe you could give us some examples of the kinds of products that you’re producing from the promise and the lease. So I
Jordi Ferre 09:53
mentioned before about the alcohol, and I would say 50 It’s 50% Industrial Use 50% for for human use. And then you have an important product which is natural tartaric acid. And natural tartaric acid is typically used in wine and is used in pharma and other food applications. Okay. And so that’s an important product for the industry. Then you have another product that you extract from here from the seeds, you actually extract grapeseed oil, which is actually growing in acceptance and consumption around the world, especially markets in Asia and the United States is becoming a speciality oil for consumption that’s actually becoming very popular.
Catherine Weetman 10:47
Is that is that for cooking with or salads or as a salad things
Jordi Ferre 10:52
mainly salads cooking, that’s why it’s more precious specialities more to be tasted, seen rather than be cooked with? Because obviously there is I mean, your limitation in terms of volume was always going to be how much is the crop, right? Because you that’s the thing with circular economy, you, you take what what another stream gives you, you don’t really create a whole industry to create that. So that’s, that’s the catch. So it’s always more speciality. And then the other part is very interesting with natural colorings. Typically, it’s done with red grape. And, you know, you basically do colorings with brown to rich colours, that’s used widely in the colouring industry as a natural colour. So And finally, very important that I’m sorry, guys,
Catherine Weetman 11:42
I’m just going to ask Would that just be for food? Or could it be for fibres, fabrics and things like that?
Jordi Ferre 11:49
It will be mainly for food not for fabrics. Because that would be using fabrics will probably use non natural.
Catherine Weetman 11:56
Yeah, but there is towards more natural dyes. And so that, you know, there’s there’s quite a correct trend starting there. So I was, I was interested to know whether, but I’m guessing it’s a it’s quite a high cost.
Jordi Ferre 12:12
That’s the problem. It could be high cost not effective. And there is some limitations how much you have, but very popular, especially in for the use of foods, and beverages. And then finally, today, and I’m going to explain to you what I mean by today you have you have antioxidants. I mean, it’s widely known that wine has very good antioxidant or grape. And then wine obviously has very good antioxidant, anti oxidant properties. So what we do is we take out the polyphenols from the promise, and we sell those into the food, nutraceutical animal feed and cosmetic industries. And you know that that is a high value product that you actually take from pomace, which is one of the most with most wellness qualities that you can have and the consumption of polyphenols antioxidants has been growing, and it’s becoming more and more mainstream. So that’s an important one. Obviously, you have a whole stream of new innovation that could come in the future. Because I don’t think that we have yet extracted all the value you can from from promise, great promise, I think there’s much more that nature can give you and that’s what we looking at?
Catherine Weetman 13:35
Yeah, I’m sure you’re right there that we’re we’re gradually getting better at understanding the different elements in all sorts of biological ingredients and what we used to consider as waste. And I was interested to learn that Alvinesa is replacing some synthetic ingredients with these natural byproducts. So what kind of things would that include? I mean, it’s tartaric acid is that is that helping to replace a cheaper synthetic material,
Jordi Ferre 14:12
there is a there is a trend obviously, it’s always more natural ingredients and natural tartaric acid is potentially replacing what the stearic acid is considered synthetic. Typically synthetic stearic acid will be mostly manufactured in China. So the more efficient and the more we produce, the more we can replace that. And obviously, as you know, Catherine with the food trends today and consumption trends mean natural tartaric acid is becoming a very, very sought ingredient by some of the large food and beverage ingredients. Yeah, I’m sorry for the beverage manufacturers. Yeah,
Catherine Weetman 14:52
I think more and more companies are starting to want to get get more transparent with not just Just the ingredients and how those ingredients are produced, but where they’re coming from and, you know, being able to be definite about, you know, it’s coming from this place and this supplier and to really understand who it was.
Jordi Ferre 15:18
Yeah, exactly, there’s a big element of what we do, I absolutely agree with you. In terms of replacement, we talked about colorings, I think natural colouring is also a lot more on trend. I will also tell you that there is another type of replacement that is not only natural to synthetic, but is replacing on the aspect of circular economy. They are some colorings that have to be specifically dedicated agriculture and resources to be grown, for instance, you have elements like black carrot, that are also popular, they are natural, but they also take resources, because you have to specifically grow a black carrot to extract the colouring. Yeah, so I think the replacement comes two ways. One is obviously natural versus synthetic, and also the way you do it, I mean, you know, sustainable way of doing it is very important as well. And I think that’s the trend will be, will not stop here.
Catherine Weetman 16:22
Yeah, I think you’re right, that, definitely prioritising ways of using something that isn’t easy to digest as a human food. And, you know, moving away from growing things, using land to grow things that are for fibres, colouring, animal feed, and so on. Because, you know, we just, we just don’t have the spare land, do we, and particularly if, if, if we want to offset by growing trees as well, then that puts even more pressure on land. So we have to use every every bit of the of the world, the planet,
Jordi Ferre 16:58
that last time I check, you know, the world population continues to grow. And on the other hand, you know, the last I check the resources, the world resources are not growing at the same pace. So you got to be a lot more smarter in the way you actually deal with your supply chains and how you do things. And that’s why I think the big trend towards circular economy is because of that. It’s just not a fad, it’s actually a need, that the market will have more and more.
Catherine Weetman 17:28
You’re absolutely right. And some of the statistics from the the UN, over the last couple of years have showed that resource use and I’m talking all resources, not just food and biological resources, but resource use has been growing faster than population, and faster than the rate of growth of GDP, gross domestic product, because everything’s getting cheaper, and we all want more things. So our consumption is going up. And over the said over the last 50 years resource usage has doubled in just 50 years after all that those centuries, those millennia of human human life on Earth, and 50, the last 50 years it’s doubled. And it’s predicted to double again by 2060 if we carry on at the same rate, so we’ve got to get a lot smarter at using what we consider as waste and turning it into valuable things just as Alvinesa is doing. And so on that same theme Alvinesa developed circular production process as well, which is, you know, another another impressive part of the business. So, could you tell us a bit more about that please God,
Jordi Ferre 18:37
well, I would say different things, you know, we we are accountable internally for our carbon footprint, which we measure and, you know, I will give you some of the points for you to consider, you know, we we, we operate with a high percentage of our energy which is actually generated. On site, we have a, we have a energy pump solar power plant, in on site, and we can generate a third of our current electricity needs is generated by that, by that plant. On top of that we use our biomass generated by the process to actually use also the energy of the steam 200% of the steam that’s used, is used for biomass. So, basically, we’re not only looking at producing the output, but also using wisely everything that’s generated in the process to re invest if you want to put it in that way or re re relocate within the process to generate energy. We believe that today about 50% of our electricity is is regenerated renewably and we continue to, to make progress to increase that percentage, which is extremely important, as you can imagine. So, again, it’s it’s to recap a little bit we are on Yes, we are in the circular economy, we do good, good for you ingredients. But on top of that, we do it in a very sustainable way. And that’s very important that guides us across.
Catherine Weetman 20:26
And in terms of the processes themselves. As I understand it, you’re only using water for to ash to help extract the byproducts rather than using any chemical solvents to get at the nutrients that you want to produce.
Jordi Ferre 20:44
That is absolutely correct. And we are only using water to do the extraction process. So that means that we don’t use any, any solvents, which other industries may use, that’s very important. And so there’s no trace of any solvents or anything else. That’s very important. The other thing also, I would like to say an ad is one thing that’s very specific about the raw material we have access to is very little to no pesticides. And the reason is because Bastila mentioned in the centre of Spain, tends to be a very bright area. And unlike other areas, like for instance, France, or, which, of course is very well recognised in terms of their wines and everything, but they tend to be a lot more pesticide use that we have here. So that’s extremely important. A consequence of that is that part of our output, it’s certified organic. So also not only can go and be claimed as a natural ingredient, but also could be claimed as an organic ingredient. So I think that we have advantages from a raw material. And our process, as you said very well is actually done in a very reasonable way in terms of what do you use no solvents, and you actually use water to do the extraction.
Catherine Weetman 22:02
Yeah, that’s that’s impressive. And I’m curious, Jody, to understand a bit more about what led you to Alvin ASA, because your background includes quite a few senior positions in the food and pharmaceutical sectors, such as Tate and Lyle, Warner Lambert. So what what attracted you to join a circular business like Alvinesa?
Jordi Ferre 22:26
Yes, so my experience has always been in the food industry, I started more in consumer products. And then he went into food ingredients. And then I also had a standard in what they call post harvest, which I’m going to come back to, but it’s always in food. So what attracted me in albinism is a few things. One is, you know, circular economy, which I thought was definitely the way to do that. And also the type of ingredients that we actually produce. And I saw the potential because I honestly think, Catherine, that what this company has been doing for a while has not really been recognised enough, has not been visible, you know. And I thought by giving it the visibility, and continue to create innovation out of the streams that we do here, I think it would be a very good opportunity in terms of moving forward, not only in growth, per se, but also in terms of the relevance that this company could really have in the food industry in the future. So I thought this is a great opportunity to grow it because that’s what I like is to grow businesses. One thing though, I would say that through my career, especially when I moved from consumer goods to food ingredients, I always look for businesses that had a good positive impact. And a very what I call noble mission, if you look at when it was Tate & Lyle or it was Purecircle, these are companies that actually manufacture zero calorie sweeteners. And especially in the case of Purecircle that was stevia, which was natural. And that was helping with making diets healthier, by eliminating sugar with all the health issues that you actually have by using too much sugar. My last job before I joined Alvinesa was in a company called Agrifresh. And Agrifresh was not in food ingredients, per se, we were in post harvest. And we were managing the ripening process and the whole decay process of fruit after being harvested, so to avoid food waste. So the big themes of you know healthier diets, sugar reduction, preventing food waste, and this particular day using better resources. It’s all been something that’s attracted me to I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to choose where I wanted to work. And for me is the job is the position of release all of that. But it’s what kind of company you’re working for, are you really proud every time in the morning where you wake up and I can be talking to you right now all the great things we do, I think that makes a difference. That’s what makes me passionate about what I do. And look, I bring a lot of experience. On a global level, I’ve been 21 years living in the US, I always manage global businesses. And it’s my pleasure to make this business grow and make it more global and more relevant. That’s that’s kind of what I look for.
Catherine Weetman 25:40
Yeah, and I’m sure there are lots of opportunities both to develop what you’re already doing with the grapes, and to branch out into other countries and maybe even into different source ingredients and use the same kind of biorefining circular approach for those because I think, you know, every sector we look at, you can just see massive amounts of potentially valuable parts of a biological ingredient going going to waste
Jordi Ferre 26:11
is through it, I give you a couple of examples, you can talk about olive oil, the process of making olive oil and everything that actually creates the oil, the olive pomace, if you want to call it, which is something we probably looking at, or tomato, tomato used to do source. I mean, and there is so much development in this area, you have things like a lot of the canned foods, with everything that’s left waste, vegetables, and all of this, there’s a whole industry that’s arising, and we don’t discard playing a role also in those other sources.
Catherine Weetman 26:47
I’m smiling because in the first edition of the circular economy handbook that I wrote, back in 2016, I was doing the research. And so when I came onto the chapter for food, I was looking for good examples. And it was relatively easy to find examples for things like coffee and so on, because those sort of chains of of, you know, byproducts. So and we’re starting to emerge. And I came across something in the in the newspapers or online to say that Ford cars and Heinz are teamed up. And they were going to be collaborating on a project to turn waste tomato skins from the ketchup and soup into a material that could be used inside cars. And I even wrote in in the book, you know, I’ve checked the date of this press release, and it’s and it wasn’t April, the first and so I’ll put it in there. When I came to do the second edition. A few years later, I went straight to that and looked to see how it had evolved. And there was no mention of it ever again. After that one piece of PR. So yeah, so So my my sceptical head in 2016 sort of writing, you know, this wasn’t published on April, the first April Fool’s Day, you know, turned out to be correctly sceptical life, I think. But that’s not but that’s not to say it’s not possible to make fabric colour about plastic
Jordi Ferre 28:15
as possible gathering but I think that there are other usages that are a lot more obvious, exactly. As before, and you know, a lot of those products have a lot of very good nutrients, and can be used to make our diets better. So
Catherine Weetman 28:30
exactly. Yeah, so turning them into car upholstery isn’t isn’t probably the best, the best way to treat them. And so how do you see the future for Alvin ASA, Jordi. You know, what? Is the market growing? Are you are you in demand for more volume more types of byproducts?
Jordi Ferre 28:51
Absolutely, I think the the limitation you may have is so much access to raw material you have, the more raw material you access, the more you can process and the more you can actually sell. So I don’t think there is a demand issue. Problem. Sometimes it’s so much raw material you have access. So for us, they’ll be nice. Both from an organic as well as in organic standpoint, we’re going to look at increasing our sourcing of of, of grape pomace. And we recently announced a acquisition about less than two months ago, we bought a company in the Spanish wine region of Penedes in the Northeast in the Catalonia area, and that’s a very interesting that’s where Cava is is actually manufacture or the candidates white wines etc. So that gives us access to diversify source of raw materials. It has a lot of very good advantages because empanadas, for instance, a lot of the products option is organic, or is switching to organic. And also there’s high antioxidant contained in that raw material. So we’ve done that announcement, I think that you probably will see us going into maybe trying to do more acquisitions, to be able to access more raw material and create more value. And then the future we see as well is potentially in diversifying into other extracts. As long as, as long as it’s based on circular economy. And on ingredients that have value for for our diets, I think that’s going to be our model, we have strong support from our shareholders. And that’s where we see we see these as the as the future of this company, and this company is going to have a very relevant, relevant role, I think, in the food industry more and more. And that’s where, as I told you before, that’s what attracted me to join.
Catherine Weetman 31:01
I think you’re right, and I think people are starting to realise, and research is helping with this, that choosing organic ingredients isn’t just about eliminating the pesticides, it’s a completely different way of growing, isn’t it all the benefits of doing things in a regenerative way, and using, you know, animal manures and, you know, insects and biodiversity to fortify and replenish the soil means that we get a much wider range of constituent parts in the, in the, whatever we’re growing there. I was reading something this is this is a completely different subject, but about meat, and how the trace elements of you know dropped massively, in the same quantity of meat over the years, because animals aren’t getting such a complete food, it’s, you know, it’s a monocrop. And it’s grown with artificial pesticides and so on, and soils not replenished properly. It’s fossil fuel, fertiliser. So it’s just kind of the basics to kind of get get the feed growing. And we shouldn’t be surprised that what comes out of that is in effect, a malnourished product, compared to an organic or biodynamic product, which has a much richer range of micronutrients, and trace elements and so on. And I think people are really starting to understand more of that.
Jordi Ferre 32:28
Absolutely governing when you start tinkering with nature, then you cannot expect the same, the same output. It’s just the way it is, you know, you may have some advantages from an industrial standpoint, but then you lose somewhere else. And it’s keeping that balance that you know, that’s going to be the way to look at things.
Catherine Weetman 32:49
Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. So Jordy, if you were talking to somebody thinking about making their business more circular, or starting something circular, from the lessons that you’ve learned over the last few years, what would your top tip be for them? What advice would you give them,
Jordi Ferre 33:06
I think the advice is always to stay true to your original mission. And do not, do not compromise on anything that has to do in the process. And how you do that’s very important. In terms of, you know, being sustainable, and be and defend everything that you’re doing through that’s very important at the long run. That’s what’s going to give you the credibility. And I think that’s, that’s to me, very, very important. The second thing is always that, although the supply chain, I talk a lot about supply chain, we talk about ingredients you can do, never never lose, lose sight of your final, your final user, which is the consumer, and so even so you have to do ingredients, or you have to reprocess brother, that it’s done in a very sustainable way. Never forget, you got to make it attractive. And so it could be health benefits, it could be taste, it could be a product that has a certain trend, but never really lose sight of that anything we do in this world, you have to have the consumer even if you’re not a consumer goods company, you have to have that in mind. You know, and I think this, these are the main guiding things that I would say just do not compromise and how your idea is to do things. Do not take shortcuts, be patient, make sure that everything you do is highly sustainable, and also never lose sight. At the end of the day of the market. You’re going after to make that product even more attractive. That’s that’s a personally you know, of course, we could talk a lot of more things but those two things are guiding principles.
Catherine Weetman 34:48
Thank you. I think that’s that’s excellent advice. And of course, what the consumer needs and wants is evolving all the time, isn’t it as people find out more and as younger generations are and sort of emerge into the, and have buying power, and their views a difference. I’ve just been doing some research on the, you know, the views of millennials and Gen Zed compared to older generations. And it’s, you know, with every new generation, there’s more interest in purpose before profit, there’s more interest in health and wellness and, you know, social inclusion and so on. So that’s a, that’s a really hopeful sign, I think. And Jordi, if you could, if I could give you a magic wand, so that you could change one thing in the world, to perhaps make it you know, better in some way, what would that be?
Jordi Ferre 35:40
Well, I like I’m going to explain what I’m going to say. But I’d like some of the world resources to be more evenly distributed. And I’m not trying to message here is not a political message, I’m not going there. I’m talking about access to order and access to, to save food. At least I like access to health, to reasonable health. I like some of the basics to be more equally distributed in the world, I think there is still a lot of parts in the world that are missing the basics. And so that’s very important. And I’m not only referring Catherine here about poor countries, and in rich countries, if you want I mean, there is a lot of parts in the West, where, for instance, people do not have Believe it or not access to a good nutrition. And we’ve seen a lot of that experience that even in a country like the US why they don’t have it. Well, maybe sometimes some of the food that they eat could be pricey. Some of the times simply culture and education. So when I talk about having everything evenly distributed, is that, you know, I wish people had a little bit more of that access to something that’s very basic for us. They know that we that’s gone. In some cases, that’s reverse back, right. And the way we used to do things and how things are done today.
Catherine Weetman 37:06
Yeah, yeah, you’re absolutely right. I like that. And Jordi, is there somebody you’d recommend as a future guest for the podcast?
Jordi Ferre 37:15
Well, you know, I’ve known a lot of people in the food industry. And I think there is somebody that I know, well, his name is Giovanni Battistini. He’s originally from Italy. And Giovanni is a very progressive, very smart guy. And he’s an innovation guru, he has worked both in ingredients, he was a feminist for a while. And then he was a Ferrero as well. So he knows consumer, he knows food ingredients is extremely progressive know all the trends and technologies in the world. And I think he can be somebody that can give just not about a particular industry. But talking about, you know, how to, you know, make most of our resources in general could be an interesting chap to, to have. Plus, he has a very wide perspective, because he’s from Italy, but he’s lived for many years in the US. And he’s really a citizen of the world. So I think it will be somebody interesting to have a chat with.
Catherine Weetman 38:11
Yeah, thank you. He sounds he sounds very interesting. And how can people find out more about you and about the work of Alvinesa?
Jordi Ferre 38:19
Well, I think that the first start, I would say that people can go to our website, www.alvinesa.com. And to start an idea, and then there is first they will understand better, what we do, our origins are raw material and the process we’ve made and the products we make. And also there’s ways they’re to communicate with us if they if they have questions. They want to really address any comments. We’re very open to do that. And I would encourage also people to follow us because I think there’ll be more and more news about some of the activities that we’re currently doing.
Catherine Weetman 38:58
Thank you. So yeah, I’ll put put that link in the show notes. And yeah, it would be interesting to catch up in a year or so and see what other ingredients you’ve you’ve created from what used to be waste or what are the markets you’ve moved into to use the same kind of circular economy principles of taking all those valuable nutrients out, so that we’re not we’re not losing them. So Jordi, thank you very much. That was fascinating.
Jordi Ferre 39:25
Thank you very much for having me again, Catherine. Thank you.
Catherine Weetman 39:30
It was fascinating to hear that the market for these kinds of natural high value byproducts is growing. And it was interesting to hear that the organic grapes include many more micronutrients than industrially farmed crops. What Alvin Acer is doing should be at the heart of any business involved in processing, biological materials, food fibres, health care products, and so on. It’s so important to see value in every element of the raw materials and to be constantly evolving. To understand how to extract or create different byproducts, and to develop these for a wide range of end users. Alvinesa’s business model could also be seen as a form of industrial symbiosis, receiving unwanted materials from one industry to create new useful products for other industries. As part of my role on the advisory board of UKMSN plus, that’s the UK manufacturing symbiosis network Plus, I’ve written a case study on Alvinesa. I’ll include a link in the show notes. UK MSM plus is an EPSRC funded network plus created to stimulate the growth of manufacturing research and communities concerned with developing manufacturing synergies for the circular economy. So that’s it for this episode of the circular economy podcast. Thank you to our guest this week. Jordi Ferre, CEO of Alvinesa natural ingredients. And thank you for listening. You can find out more and follow Jordi Ferre and Alvinesa on social media. Special thanks to Harvey Chimoff for making this episode possible. And as usual, you can check out the other links we mentioned in the show notes at Circular Economy podcast.com. If you want to find episodes on a particular Circular Economy strategy, or for a market sector, or specific countries, check out our interactive podcast index. There’s a link on the podcast homepage at www circular economy podcast.com. And every episode includes an interview transcript. Don’t forget that you can help make the circular economy happen to with the choices you make at work and in your everyday life. Buying pre used keeping what you have for longer repairing it and making sure it has another life. And you can help spread the word talk about the circular economy and help other people find this podcast by leaving us a rating and a review on your podcast app. Email, a screenshot of your review to podcast at Rethink global dot info. And we’ll give you a shout out on the show. If you’d like to learn more about the circular economy, why not go back and listen to episode one and two, or buy a copy of my award winning book a circular economy handbook how to build a more resilient, competitive and sustainable business. The book takes you through the concepts and practicalities with lots of real examples from all around the world. The Circular Economy podcast is brought to you by rethink global helping you succeed with circular. You can find information on our talks, workshops, coaching and advice and circular economy resources at www rethink global dot info. All connect with me Catherine Weetman on LinkedIn. Thanks so much for listening to the end. And if you like what you’re hearing, please hit subscribe and we’ll see you next time.
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Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’. Or, follow them on Twitter.