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Photo: Anette Persson

Bayn’s founder about the company’s birth

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.

21 November 2019 •

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.

Realising visions

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, founder of Bayn Europe AB, in front of a window
Photo: Anette Persson

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.

Lucy Dahlgren, founder of Bayn Europe AB, in front of a window
Photo: Anette Persson

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

Lucy Dahlgren, founder of Bayn Europe AB, sitting in a staircase with a cup of coffee
Photo: Anette Persson

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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