Bayn’s founder about the company’s birth
Features • Bayn Europe celebrates its 10th anniversary. The company was founded by Lucy Dahlgren, who was early on as an entrepreneur in sugar reduction. She saw the potential of stevia as a sweetener, and worked assiduously for her vision to create a knowledge company in the field – long before stevia was approved in EU. Today, she is an ambassador of sort for innovative producers who want to enter markets with their lifestyle products.
Lucy Dahlgren celebrates her 50th birthday on November 25. On the same day, Bayn Europe celebrates its 10th anniversary. Bayn’s founder can be described as a visionary and an entrepreneur, but she are more comfortable by identifying herself as a project manager. It is with this background that the foundation is laid for Bayn as a company and an organisation.
Almost a year ago, Lucy Dahlgren left the post as the CEO of Bayn, and instead she took up a position on the board of directors. Today she works as a business and project developer in sugar reduction, and in this she is able realise her visions.
Lucy Dahlgren tells us that Bayn’s vision of sugar reduction, for many years and during her time, was made with small investments and limited ability to grow.
– I have always believed in innovative business models in order to drive change. But these are costly processes that Bayn haven’t had the resources for, says Lucy Dahlgren.
This was also the reason why she left the CEO post, a position taken over by Patrik Edström.
– I wanted to realise innovative business models with an e‑commerce platform, which can provide clear information and guidance on healthier sweet products for the consumers and healthier sweetness for the producers. I also wanted more funding and transactions from players in the area of sugar reduction. The aim was to create sustainable sugar reduction businesses, and to allow Bayn to become a product company for producers of lifestyle products, says Lucy Dahlgren.
Interest in stevia was awakened early
Lucy Dahlgren is passionate about sugar reduction, and so she has been for more than ten years. Her interest in sugar reduction was awakened long before she founded Bayn Europe in Stockholm, and long before stevia and steviol glycosides were approved as sweeteners in the EU.
Prior to that, she worked as a consultant and project manager at a Swedish company in real estate development and construction. The flame was lit when she was given the task of project management of the construction of new stevia refineries in China and Paraguay.
Pretty soon an idea was raised to work in-depth with stevia and steviol glycosides. Lucy Dahlgren understood that stevia could be revolutionary in the food and beverage industry. During this time, the global obesity and diabetes epidemic was a hot topic. Over-consumption of sweetened beverages and other products with sugar was getting out of control and was resulting in substantial health problems.
– As a project manager, I always start from my three P’s, which are short for people, planet, profit. I realised that stevia and steviol glycosides could be part of the solution for people, for our planet but also for brand new business areas. The food and beverage industry needed knowledge, she says.
Met with resistance at first
Lucy Dahlgren talked the matter over with her father, Yan Li, professor and dean of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Jinan University in China. He was not as enthusiastic as his daughter, but believed that the introduction of steviol glycosides would mean a completely different kind of revolution than the one Lucy Dahlgren envisioned. Stevia as a sweetener would not only change people’s taste experience of sweetness. Stevia would also compete with an already thriving and well-established sugar industry.
Some people close to Lucy Dahlgren met the idea with some resistance, but was at the same time she was strengthened in her vision. Her father also believed that if stevia as a sweetener were to have a breakthrough, innovation and product development were required.
Accepted by the academy
Lucy Dahlgren went on with her idea of creating a knowledge company for the food and beverage industry, and she was supported in her vision by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the Chamber of Commerce of China. She began discussions with leading Chinese stevia manufacturers and refineries. She contacted researchers who were deeply involved in the research field of stevia, and she built up a solid network within the academy.
In 2009, she founded Bayn Europe AB in Stockholm together with a business partner.
– The business concept was based on the sale of high quality pure steviol glycosides, and to sell knowledge and products with the help of technical and sensory applications. The target group was the European food and beverage industry, says Lucy Dahlgren.
One step ahead
Lucy Dahlgren kept an eye on the development and constantly followed what happened. During Bayn’s first year, steviol glycosides were not approved as sweeteners in the EU. But the European stevia organisation EUSTAS had submitted an application to EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority.
Bayn became active member of EUSTAS.
– Together we worked for the approval of steviol glycosides as an ingredient in food and beverage. The application to EFSA was based on the Belgian professor Jan Geun’s database with over twenty years of research on stevia, one of many hundreds of knowledgeable people I had come to know during my journey, says Lucy Dahlgren.
Commercialisation and to share knowledge is important for Lucy Dahlgren. She organised a project, sponsored by Chinese stevia refineries, to translate and publish a book on stevia research, written by Professor Jan Geuns.
– Today, the book is used as lecture literature at Chinese universities on topics related to industry, food science and food technology, says Lucy Dahlgren.
The approval came in 2011
Lucy Dahlgren initiated in-depth contacts with stevia growers and refineries in China. When EFSA approved steviol glycosides as a sweetener in the end of 2011, Bayn was ready to go ahead.
– Shortly thereafter, we signed distribution agreements with Barentz International – one of the world’s leading distributors in the food and beverage industry. We also registered our trademark Eureba, says Lucy Dahlgren.
Brand new market
Bayn’s first year was about seizing the right moment. The next three years were about entering a whole new market – as a consultant in a research-driven knowledge company.
– We delivered steviol glycosides in small volumes to food producers who wanted to try it. We helped customers to develop recipes with the desired flavour profile and texture. And we developed generic recipes for a number of applications. Our products, sold under the name Eureba, were well received, says Lucy Dahlgren.
Bayn gets listed
An agreement with R2 Group, a major distributor in food and beverage industry, for the Nordic market was signed.
– Then it was time to grow. In order to do that venture capital and investors interested in our operations where needed. We were first listed on Nasdaq First North in Stockholm, which I chose for the sake of our brand and our internationalisation, she says.
During the years of 2015 to 2017, Bayn built the foundation of today’s organisation. The company grew from three to eight employees. Lucy Dahlgren hand-picked each person, created an innovation center in Gävle, and switched the organisation to a market-driven company.
The trademark Eureba was further developed – a product that today is an easy solution for food and beverage companies who want to replace sugar without having to drive advanced product development internally.
Time to move on
In 2018, after nine years of hard work, founder Lucy Dahlgren handed over the role as CEO to Patrik Edström. Lucy Dahlgren took a seat on Bayn’s board and also took on new business challenges.
– When I left Bayn, it was not the end of my commitment to the company. Today, my involvement is based on a disruptive synergy strategy, in which I challenge old business models and create new marketing channels for already existing sugar reduced products. In this way, I promote Bayn, but also other companies’ products. I am still focused on the challenges associated with sugar reduction and therefore continue to work on flavour structures and cost, she says.
Designing platform and packaging
During the years 2015 to 2017, Lucy Dahlgren initiated, among other things, a cloud platform for sugar reduction.
– The project was exciting and led to my decision to go ahead and build an innovative distribution channel to speed up sugar reduction in the market. The cloud platform received a Seal of Excellence from the European Commission. I’m really proud of that and it’s proof that Bayn is doing the right thing and going in the right direction, she says.
One of the latest projects is about introducing pre-existing lifestyle products to larger markets. In November, Lucy Dahlgren traveled to China together with Bayn’s sales and marketing manager Mats Källqvist, to, among other things, present Eureba in a new packaging, aimed at health-conscious customer segments in China.
– I designed the packagings, with people, health and lifestyle as central points. Another thing that I am also very proud of. Bayn and Eureba will always be close to my heart – much like it’s my child, says Lucy Dahlgren.
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