Stirring up success: Ricky Sutanto
With the pandemic delivering an unexpected boost to its home baking business, Bakels Indonesia is now turning its attention to industrial and semi-industrial customers as Managing Director Ricky Sutanto enacts an ambitious growth plan.
Ever wondered how to make a berry torte, a raspberry chocolate delight or even an oatmeal speculoos cake? Then head on over to the Bakels Indonesia Instagram page, where the Swiss-based bakery ingredient supplier is focusing much of its marketing efforts as it seeks to strengthen its profile in a market that is already very competitive.
By working closely with influencers and chefs to offer live baking demonstrations to its followers, the company aims to place itself in the top three bakery ingredients suppliers across the country, growing sales of its bread package, cake package, glazes, fruit filling and more.
"Even during the COVID-19 situation, we still managed to do IG live baking demos once a month."
"The challenge that we face is the competition in the local market here," Managing Director Ricky Sutanto tells The CEO Magazine. "Because Bakels Indonesia is a Swiss company, we import the products, but then we face the challenge that the price becomes an issue in the short-term compared with local competitors."
To tackle this, Ricky plans to build relationships with local manufacturers to create a long-term solution, especially in light of the supply chain issues stirred up by the recent pandemic. By doing this, it can enhance the speed and overall service that it provides to its customers.
"We want Bakels Indonesia, especially in the medium term, to become the favoured supplier to our customers and we would like to become top three in this sector," he says. "We would also like to manage local manufacturers in the long term."
One heart, one spirit, one goal
While COVID-19 certainly brought with it hardships, it also saw the company thrive. As people isolated from the world, they explored new ways to combine entertainment with indulgence and so home baking became an increasingly popular pastime.
"One of the effects of the pandemic was that there were many new entrepreneurs in the area of home baking and so we have a lot of new customers," he says. The company also extended its reach into new states.
In fact, over the period, Ricky reveals that sales actually grew by 50 per cent thanks to Bakels Indonesia’s emphasis on culture as captured in its motto – "one heart, one spirit, one goal."
"We could still celebrate success during COVID-19 because of good teamwork and good leadership," he says. "I joined Bakels Indonesia to take it to the next level and so, at this moment, we must have a new energy."
This new energy represents a new chapter in a long history for Bakels. It was originally founded in Amsterdam in 1904 and launched in Indonesia around a century later, commencing its distribution operations in 2009. But although the company has been operating in Indonesia for some time, it wasn’t until Ricky took the helm that it started to really invest in promoting the Bakels brand.
"When I joined, the first important task was to increase and improve our brand awareness here," he recalls. "That’s why we are now quite active in terms of magazines, Instagram, YouTube. Even during the COVID-19 situation, we still managed to do Instagram live baking demos once a month."
Cooking up plans
If awareness of the brand continues to grow at its current rate, the opportunities for Bakels in the local market are huge. Bread is big business in Indonesia, with AEGIC figures showing that per capita wheat consumption for bread in Indonesia, while currently sitting at around 4.7 kilograms per year, is expected to grow to 6.6 kilograms by 2030.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, he plans to also grow its distribution network for its bread improvers. Semi industrial and industrial customers will also be a major focus, with the company already strong among stores, bakeries and supermarkets.
Product development plays a significant role in Ricky’s aspirations for Bakels Indonesia. "With good product development, we can use our technology and technical support to provide the best solutions for the end products of our key semi-industrial and industrial customers," he says. For example, the company is working towards a longer shelf-life product as well as improved softness and texture.
Ricky’s experience in the world of food ingredients before joining Bakels Indonesia has equipped him with the tools to take the company to the next level. And now with his short, medium and long-term plans in place, a big pinch of vision and a generous scoop of determination, he looks set to mix up a recipe for success.