Enzyme formulator with space for more
News & Views visited Matthias Enste, Managing Director of the enzyme company WeissBioTech in its new production facility in Büttelborn.
WeissBioTech GmbH (WBT) has been a member of the BRAIN Group since 2014. In July 2020, the company became a wholly owned BRAIN subsidiary when BRAIN AG bought out the remaining minority shareholder. For Managing Director Matthias Enste, this means faster decision-making processes and the possibility of closer cooperation. The graduate master brewer and business economist has been managing the company's business mainly from the Büttelborn location since November 2019. News & Views visited him in the new WBT production facility.
Mr. Enste, you have quite a lot of space here! How large is the new production site?
Yes, indeed, we have plenty of space, in total we have about 4,400 square meters floor space on which we have expanded in recent months.
What exactly is going on here?
Büttelborn has been home to WBT's production, warehousing, quality control and product development for a few months now. These departments were successfully moved from our base in France into Büttelborn. Our administration, finance, purchasing and so on has remained in Ascheberg.
What exactly is produced here?
Production in our case means: we manufacture enzyme products. We formulate and blend enzyme products that we have purchased from our global partners, or which were produced on our behalf, stabilize and standardize them and fill them into containers. We are therefore a so-called “formulator”.
That doesn't sound very complicated. Is that deceptive?
It looks simple but actually it’s more difficult than it looks. Quality standards are extremely high in our industry and the ability to respond to customer requests quickly is another complexity that we deal with. We focus on thoroughly understanding the customer’s specific issues or technical processes. This allows us to deliver customized solutions in close collaboration with the customer. Our sales people are therefore “technical salespeople”: Each customer process is unique, and we are here to advise our customers to find the best solution for their process.
In addition to storage, production and filling, there is also a laboratory here. What happens there?
We need the laboratory first and foremost for the inspection of incoming raw materials or for the quality control of our finished products. Here we mainly carry out chemical-physical analyses, i.e. we test, for example, whether the enzymes have the activity they should have or whether the pH value is correct. We have outsourced microbiological analyses to a specialized service provider.
In what form do customers buy the enzyme products?
We mainly produce in liquid form, as most of our industrial customers prefer this. The liquid products normally have a shelf life of two years when properly refrigerated. For certain niche applications, we also provide a range of powder products.
Who exactly are your customers?
We sell to customers and distributors worldwide, and we clearly focus on building long-term collaborative relationships with these customers.
Can you specify possible applications for WBT products?
We sell our enzymes and biotechnological additives primarily to the food and bioethanol industry. Starch or starch derivatives offer numerous applications for our enzymes. In bioethanol production, for example, starch-containing biomass is broken down enzymatically using coordinated DELTAZYM® products. What makes this process so special is that our customers can replace otherwise common chemical treatment steps using certain WBT enzymes. For example, if they use our pH-resistant enzymes, they no longer need to add alkalis or acids to achieve the precise optimum pH range for the enzyme.
Our enzymes are also used in food production in the dairy and meat industry. In the beverage sector we offer complete enzyme ranges for the production of wine, beer, potable alcohol as well as for fruit and vegetable processing. For example, we supply our enzymes from the NATUZYM® range for a wide range of requirements around the globe. These enzymes are constantly being further developed and are GMO-free, so that they can also be used for the production of organic food.
Whether juice or concentrate, clear or cloudy, pome fruit or exotic fruits all these applications can be covered by NATUZYM® enzymes. Our NATUZYM® products are even used in niche products such as vegetable purees or organically produced fruit preparations.
As a graduate master brewer you surely have something in your portfolio for breweries as well…
Yes, of course I am highly interested in this application... For the beer industry, we have products that improve the consistency of manufacturing processes and at the same time increase the yield and quality. In beer applications, enzyme products can be used to facilitate liquefaction, saccharification and filtration, for example. Our expert technical service is available to breweries to advise them on this.
You yourself are a master brewer and business economist, not an enzyme specialist. Where does the enzyme expertise at WBT come from?
In our small but select group – we are just under 20 employees in total – we have biologists, food technologists and other experts who specialize in enzymes. One of our employees helped writing a reference book* on the subject of enzymes in fruit and vegetable processing some years ago. She brings her substantial expertise as a quality manager to WBT. In special cases, we can call on our colleagues in the BRAIN Group where we have many enzymologists and microbiologists.
Where does WBT intersect with the other members of the BRAIN Group?
If we cannot offer a direct solution from within our portfolio in response to an inquiry, we are happy to contact our colleagues, e.g. at Biocatalysts or at BRAIN AG. In this case, individual development may be the best solution. We therefore maintain an intensive exchange within the BRAIN Group and can offer the entire value chain, so to speak, from the development of a product in the laboratory to production on an industrial scale in response to corresponding inquiries or projects. Here, of course, we make use of synergies; for example, at WBT we now sell a yeast developed by BRAIN AG, which a global beverage manufacturer has selected as a starter culture for one of its fermentation based beverages.
What's next for you in the company?
We have just completed ISO 9001 certification. We are currently working on ISO 22000 certification, which we intend to have completed by the end of the year.
Finally, a more personal question to the brewmaster: home brewing is very much in vogue at the moment - at your home too?
Unfortunately I don't have the time for that. So I buy from the shops at the moment, but who knows, in a few years’ time ...
Thank you for the interview.
*Enzymes in Food Technology, Second edition (2009). Editor(s): Robert J. Whitehurst, Maarten van Oort. Print ISBN: 9781405183666. Online ISBN: 9781444309935. DOI: 10.1002/9781444309935
WeissBioTech GmbH, headquartered in Ascheberg near Münster, Germany, is a leading supplier in the field of enzymes, yeast starter cultures, natural preservation systems and other fermentative products for the food industry and other market sectors. It supplies both large multinationals and medium-sized manufacturers of fruit juices, beer and wine. The customer base also includes industries that process starch and bioethanol. WeissBioTech was founded in 2002 and has been a member of the BRAIN Group since 2014.
→ Visit also Biocatalysts, a speciality enzyme development and manufacture company and member of the BRAIN Group
→ Find more about enzyme optimization at BRAIN AG