Blog: Dean BestSteinemann to step down as Barry Callebaut CEO

Dean Best | 6 November 2014

Barry Callebaut, the world's largest B2B chocolate supplier, said today (6 November) Juergen Steinemann would step down from his role as CEO next year.

Steinemann took the top job at the Switzerland-based company in 2009 from Dutch group Nutreco.

He built on and expanded much of the work started by predecessor Patrick De Maeseneire, who switched Barry Callebaut's focus from selling chocolate to consumers to supplying it to the likes of Nestle and Hershey.

Under Steinemann's stewardship, Barry Callebaut signed further deals to supply companies including Unilever and Grupo Bimbo and expanded the company's footprint in emerging markets, following the hotspots of demand for chocolate.

However, it was a deal struck two years ago that will stand out as the key strategic move of Steinemann's tenure. In December 2012, Barry Callebaut struck a deal to acquire Petra Foods' cocoa ingredients business, making the company not only the world's largest B2B chocolate group but also the number one cocoa processor.

The US$950m price tag was seen as expensive for a business that was seeing volumes and profits fall but Steinemann stood by the decision. "We believe the acquisition of Petra Foods' [cocoa ingredients division] is an excellent strategic fit at the core of our business," he said at the time.

Steinemann made the move to further boost Barry Callebaut's position in emerging markets. The deal boosted Barry Callebaut's sales volumes in Asia and Latin America by almost two-thirds. After the deal, the regions accounted for 31% of Barry Callebaut's volumes.

Since the agreement was finalised, there has been a dispute between Barry Callebaut and Petra on the final price to be paid. The Singapore-based group said in August "proceedings are ongoing".

Nevertheless, Steinemann leaves Barry Callebaut with an expanded set of industry customers and a broader geographic footprint, which is just as well with its annual results today (he pointed to a "record year, both top and bottom-line") showing sluggish demand in western Europe.

"After an intense period as CEO of Barry Callebaut I would like to step down from my function at the end of the current fiscal year. Until then, I will continue to devote all my energy to Barry Callebaut and to ensure the current fiscal year is once again a successful one," he said.

Steinemann looks set to stay on at the company as a director, following a nomination by its board.

Andreas Jacobs, Barry Callebaut's chairman, said the board was "keen to further benefit from Juergen Steinemann’s wealth of experience".

For all its strength in the sector, Barry Callebaut, with a new CEO, now has a larger competitor in the shape of Cargill after its recent deal to buy Archer Daniels Midland's chocolate divisions.

Sectors: Confectionery

Companies: Barry Callebaut

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