The Active Indulgence

Interview with Bas van den Berg, CEO of EPF Group BV

EPF Group Protein Bars

The market for protein products is booming. Athletically ambitious individuals are reaching for protein bars or powders, while consumers wanting to lose weight opt for protein-rich bread or cereal. The origins can be traced back to the bodybuilding scene; by now, the trend has reached mainstream society. Prinsen Berning, from the Dutch city of Helmond, is a leading provider of Active Nutrition products; products that support a healthy, active lifestyle, are suitable for all life stages – and taste good.

Prinsen Berning is an internationally renowned co-manufacturing partner for customers in 80 countries around the world - a young holding with a lot of experience. Since 2018, Bas van den Berg has been CEO of the company; he too is an experienced industry insider. "I have worked for many years in responsible positions in multinational food industry corporations before I came to Prinsen Berning in 2018," he says. "By doing so, I consciously chose a smaller, young, and agile company into which I can bring my experience and be a shareholder."

Young and Experienced

Prinsen Berning was formed in 2017 through the merger of three equally well-known and traditional companies: Prinsen PV, Royal Buisman, and Gustav Berning. At Prinsen Berning in Georgsmarienhütte, bars are produced, and in Helmond, powder. The fact that the group offers both bars and powder as a one-stop shop is a unique selling point. "The merger presented special challenges," says Bas van den Berg. "We had to develop a long-term strategy and form a management team to implement this strategy. So far, we have been very successful. We have excellent employees who previously worked in large corporations in the industry and know the market from another perspective. Together, we are working to become a key partner for companies in the Active Nutrition sector."

EPF Group Production
Production takes place in Georgsmarienhütte and Helmond with state-of-the-art technologies

Four Segments, One Vision

About 100 customers sell the products under their own premium brands; among them are well-known European food retailers like Carrefour, Tesco, or Lidl. Together with its customers, Prinsen Berning develops, manufactures, and distributes protein products. The company distinguishes between four major product groups: Sport Nutrition, Weight Management, Targeted Nutrition, and Better-for-your-Indulgence. While Sport Nutrition involves products for an active, healthy lifestyle, the Weight Management area develops products suitable for energy-reduced diets. In the Targeted Nutrition segment, the focus is on protein-enriched food for different target groups and life phases. The portfolio is rounded off with foamers, coffee whiteners, instant coffees, or cocoa drinks from the Better-for-Your-Indulgence area; the main focus here is pure enjoyment.

Proactive, Flexible, and Agile

In each of the four segments, Prinsen Berning adapts to the market needs and regularly develops new solutions – the advantage of a small, flexible company, "that decides today and implements tomorrow," as Bas van den Berg emphasizes. "Protein bars were not very appealing in taste ten years ago. Today, it's different. Our goal is to market products with a high protein content that remain soft and palatably convincing throughout their shelf life. For inspiration, we look to, among other industries, the ice cream industry. Flavors like Salted Caramel or Cookies and Cream are in high demand."

Sustainability also plays a significant role in development, both in terms of ingredients and packaging. Additionally, the bars are meant to provide a sensual experience; Prinsen Berning achieves this, for example, with multi-layer bars that create unique taste moments with special textures by incorporating layers of nuts, fruit, or caramel. "It's not uncommon for customers to come to Prinsen Berning with an idea, which is then implemented together; beside that, the company works with its own recipes. "We want to be a trustworthy partner to our customers, one that aligns with the desire for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle," says Bas van den Berg. "Customer orientation and quality will continue to be the focus to grow sustainably. The market offers excellent opportunities for this."