FAM, the European market leader for innovative solutions in the world of industrial food cutting machines, was honoured with the ‘Leeuw van de Export’ award. Every year, Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) recognises Flemish companies with this award for the most striking export strategy and results.
Based in Kontich, Belgium, FAM has specialised in industrial cutting machines for all types of foods since 1980. Think about potatoes that are sliced into French fries and chips, mozzarella cut into strips for use on pizzas, the pre-cut vegetables that fill salad bowls in the supermarkets, as well as vegetables for soup, and so much more ... With the slogan ‘We shape food worldwide’ the company has shown its strength on the international market, with a leading position in various market segments and regions across the globe. Together with Stumabo, producer of high-precision knives, FAM is part of the Hifferman Group.
De ‘Leeuw van de Export’ was awarded to FAM for a range of reasons, according to Mark Van Hemelrijk, CEO of FAM: ‘Our excellent results in the past five years speak for themselves. But FIT is also rewarding our different approach to strategy per region. For example, we have a different approach for Europe, North America and Asia. Last but not least: FAM is living proof that you can develop a sustainable export strategy in which the local partners and suppliers play important roles. We believe in giving something back to Flanders and our economy for all the opportunities we have been able to benefit from.’
Export drives growth
In recent years, FAM has set a particularly strong course. In five years, their turnover has increased by at least 107%, from 14 million euro in 2014 to 29.68 million in 2019. ‘This growth is 91.3% based on our turnover from exports,’ explains Mark Van Hemelrijk with satisfaction. ‘I may say it’s a very healthy export: we are present in at least 97 countries across a number of continents. And we have no plans to stop expanding.’
Well-thought-out growth strategies
The rising turnover from export is anything but a lucky coincidence. According to Guy Baeten, Strategic Market Development Director at FAM, it’s the result of a well-thought-out growth strategy: ‘In the early years, the direction we wanted the business to move into was often based on gut feeling. If an opportunity came up and we felt that it was the right choice, we went for it. But at a certain point, you need a strategic positioning to shape your future. The requirements of your target market, the necessary capacity, your approach towards potential clients: everything was thoroughly researched before we took the next step.’ The way we targeted possible new markets was sometimes quite different, but it appears to have been successful. For example: almost 60% of pizzas in North America are topped with cheese cut by FAM machines.
Co-creation and innovation as keywords
Throughout the history of FAM, two words have been central to our policies: innovation and co-creation. They’re concepts that cannot be separated from each other according to Mark Van Hemelrijk: ‘We are always on the lookout for new technologies to make our products better, but we don’t want to innovate just for the sake of innovating. The lion’s share of our innovation has come through analysing the needs of a client and searching uncompromisingly—in close collaboration with the client—for the best solution. This often leads to innovative applications that we can subsequently use for other clients.’