To celebrate the launch of the partnership between Carbon Group and OenoBioTech, we caught up with the President and owner of the biotechnology company, Johannes de Bie, to discuss the partnership in more detail and to learn more about the man behind the continued success of OenoBioTech.
Hans is a qualified biochemist and microbiologist, completing his studies in Melbourne University. He has lived a fruitful life and recently celebrated forty years in the enzyme industry. A career which has allowed him the opportunity to travel the world, representing and managing some of the largest and well-established enzyme and yeast companies globally, earning him worldwide recognition for his work done in the biotechnology field.
Hans to begin, why don’t you tell us about the history of OenoBioTech and how it all began.
“Oenobiotech was created in December 2010, it was a joint venture between WeissBioTech and a French company called STAGRI. We decided to create a company focusing on wine. WeissBioTech had some wine activity but were very focused on bioethanol, the team at STAGRI brought a lot of wine technical expertise. The creation of the merger was a great opportunity to bring the abilities of WeissBioTech in enzyme production and development, together with the specialization and wine “know how” of STAGRI. It’s been a huge success, the company has grown a lot and has created a complete range of products, which began with yeasts for red wine, white wine, champagne wine and also a full line of enzymes used in wine for clarification, aroma & flavour development. The enzymes are also used for colour extraction from the grape skin and for stabilizing the colour.”
So, it sounds like the business was predominantly focused solely on wine, when was it that you decided to branch out further into other beverage industries?
“For the last ten years the focus has been on wine but over the last year and a half the focus has shifted to include other products for beer and alcohol production . Now we are manufacturing a range of beer yeast and enzymes to help brewers. In addition, we have developed a complete range of alcohol yeast and enzymes for the distilling industry. Today our business is no longer a wine business, it is a beverage business”.
Was there anything in particular about the brewing and distilling industry that interested you?
“It was our strong technology in yeast production and “know how” in yeast purification and selection. When you do this for wine, you can use this knowledge to do it for beer, alcohol and cider. There is a lot of synergy between all these groups of products. Our focus is on biotechnology, products like yeast, yeast nutrients, enzymes and tannins. When you are doing yeast selection for beer, wine or alcohol, there is a lot of similar technology and it is the same with enzymes, there are a lot of similarities that binds everything together. It is not like we are going into something totally new, we are staying in our core technologies but we now use these technologies in a broader field, but it will always be beverages. Today we are really a company producing products for the beverage industry especially the fermented beverage industry”.
You previously mentioned that you were in the process of increasing your facilities, can you tell us some more about this?
“Yes, we are expanding our production capacity, we are in the process of installing new equipment especially for liquid enzymes. We already make granular enzymes for the wine industry but outside of the wine industry they are not used. So, we are expanding our capacity for liquid enzymes, so we are able to formulate and adapt these enzymes to suit a particular application”.
Throughout the interview, Hans clearly demonstrates his passion for biotechnology. After discussing the company’s current expansion, he used this clever analogy to explain to us what he believes the OenoBioTech range can offer to its customers.
“I always say what we have is a toolbox, this toolbox includes yeast strains and a lot of enzyme activities. Depending on the raw material, we select the right enzyme and then we formulate that. So basically, we have the tools to formulate. In our business, the formulation and knowing what enzyme to use is crucial. If you want to make for example a barley or oat-based beverage, you need to know what these raw materials are like and what the constituents are of these raw materials, to allow you to select the right enzymes and then formulate these enzymes in the right ratio so that they can perform to the best of their ability. And that’s what I call our toolbox”.
Is there any area in particular where you believe the OenoBioTech range can have the biggest impact?
Our biggest impact can be on filtration, it can be a massive loss. It is one of the biggest problems for brewers and I believe we have some very good enzymes for aiding in filtration.
To conclude, can you tell us about your relationship with Carbon Group and why you believe the partnership can be a good fit?
My relationship with Carbon Group goes back more than 20 years, I know the team and they are all very good people. I know they are very service minded, and they look after their customers and they care for them. We maintained our relationship through the years and that’s why I’m very confident because I know that you guys provide an excellent service and you are very dedicated to your business which for us, is important. We need a good distributor who will look after the customers and we can bring some more ‘know how’ and expertise and together its’s a great team.”
Carbon Group are thrilled to be representing OenoBioTech within Ireland & the UK. Carbon Group, along with OenoBioTech are continuously looking to grow and develop the business and we are excited to see what the future holds for this partnership. Lastly, we would like to give a special thanks to Hans for partaking in this interview.
Interview by Ferdia Coughlan, Market Research Analyst at Carbon Group.