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Chr. Hansen Spotlight: A Vision for Improving Food and Health

About Chr. Hansen

Chr. Hansen is a global leader in natural solutions for the food, nutritional, agricultural, and pharmaceutical industries. Its 2,700 employees are dedicated to producing cultures, enzymes, probiotics, and natural colors that advance food and health.

Founded in 1874 and named after its founder, Christian Hansen, the company has a long and productive history of developing and applying solutions based on sound research and development, technology investments, and close customer relationships. With over a century in business, Chr. Hansen is viewed as pioneer in the bioscience industry; today, over 1 billion people around the world consume its natural ingredients every day.

Chr. Hansen’s business model is based on solid knowledge of the science and technology of its products. Its “Nature’s No. 1” mission truly reflects its vision for the future and commitment to use nature’s own mechanisms to improve food and health. Chr. Hansen is driven to explore nature and its possibilities for contributing to global solutions for a better tomorrow.

Cornell and Chr. Hansen: Rooted in Science, Reaching Across Industry

Cornell and Chr. Hansen have worked together for many years in various areas of research, development, pilot production, and academics, with some Cornell graduates and even faculty joining the team at Chr. Hansen. Recently, and like many other long-term partners, Chr. Hansen and Cornell have solidified their relationship even further through the Cornell Institute for Food Systems Industry Partnership Program (CIFS-IPP).

From a business standpoint, Chr. Hansen joined CIFS-IPP to gain access to faculty resources and to build a larger network of collaboration within the food industry. Their existing relationship with CIFS as well as their desire to help expand the Center of Excellence made membership an easy decision. The company brings a bioscience dimension to the group, broadening the network of expertise already contained within CIFS-IPP. At the same time, they gain access to a wide swath of industry players, from farm to fork.

“An industry partner recommended CIFS-IPP, and when we saw the list of other members, we felt it was a good networking opportunity,” said John Lyne, Chr. Hansen’s director of dairy technology. “We are taking an already strong foundation and enhancing it at the scientific level,” he added.

Cornell and Chr. Hansen have history, which perhaps no one is more qualified to discuss than Howard Van Buren, territory sales manager for Chr. Hansen. He boasts the longest record of collaboration with Cornell in the company, including work in the dairy pilot plant and on the academic side, where he has been delivering guest lectures on “The science and practice of yogurt making” in associate professor Carmen Moraru’s food processing and engineering courses since 2004. Van Buren has been at the University so much that he even has a white lab coat with his name stitched in Cornell red.

“I have been teaching dairy science classes and giving guest lectures at Cornell for over 11 years. Our work together has helped me and Chr. Hansen gain recognition and credibility, which in turn, has helped our business,” said Van Buren.

Van Buren also notes that Chr. Hansen was also instrumental in setting up the Department of Food Sciences Pilot Plant, which he plans to use as a member of CIFS-IPP.

Thus far, this more formal level of partnership has been strongly synergistic, with both sides enjoying the benefits of collaboration. In addition to networking, employees at Chr. Hansen are excited about the increased level of access to Cornell researchers, infrastructure, and training programs. Despite being a relative newcomer to the program, they have already taken advantage of several member benefits, including engagement with Cornell faculty.

New Food Sciences assistant professor Sam Alcaine recently spent several months at Chr. Hansen in Copenhagen to learn more about dairy fermentation in the corporate world prior to starting his appointment in Ithaca. For Chr. Hansen, having Sam at their plant was a great opportunity to develop stronger academic ties with Cornell, and the experience is already paying off for Alcaine as well, in the form of new research opportunities.

Chr. Hansen’s employees have been active in seminars and networking events, often bringing a different perspective to the table. Senior scientist Trish Dawson has been one of the company’s most active participants thus far. Most recently, she attended the Clean Label Forum for CIFS-IPP members. “She always adds something – she is a quick thinker with a good sense of humor. While she works primarily in dairy, she was able to speak to her company’s most recent focus on natural colors, which was great for other IPP members to hear about,” said CIFS Industry Liaison Officer, Julie Stafford.

Dawson has been equally enthusiastic about her company’s participation in the program. “It is essential to our business that we understand the entire industry, from the challenges and opportunities on the farm to the drivers that influence end-suppliers. This initiative brings together members from all parts of the chain, provides a forum for collaboration with key partners, and gives us a voice from the center,” she said.

Going forward, Chr. Hansen leadership hopes their CIFS-IPP membership will continue to deliver sound science and new connections that will aid and inform their business strategy development into the future. Their plans include extending their relationships within the food industry and broadening their name recognition into other areas beyond dairy. Their experts, including Trish Dawson, Howard Van Buren and John Lyne, are keen to capitalize on the use of Cornell’s research facilities, labs, and pilot plant, as well as on the expertise of its faculty. The company is also in the early stages of planning to develop an internship program with CIFS-IPP in order to attract some of Cornell’s brightest and most competent students, who they see as employees of the future.