Denmark-headquartered Novozymes — a global leader in industrial enzymes, microorganisms and biopharmaceutical ingredients — has had an active presence in India since 1983. Since 2020, Ester Baiget has led the company’s growth charge and on a visit to the country, spoke of the importance of India — both as a market, as well as a manufacturing and human resource base for the company. Today India has 800 of Novo’s 6,500 global workforce. In the interaction, she was accompanied by Krishna Mohan Puvvada, the regional president and senior director of Novozymes India. Excerpts:

Novo recorded $2.23 billion in revenues in the recently concluded fiscal. How have the five broad segments of household care; grain and tech processing; food, beverages and human health; bioenergy; and agriculture, animal health and nutrition done?

We delivered 6 per cent organic growth and at highly profitable margins. We delivered double digit growth on three of the business units and 18 per cent growth in emerging geographies. India was a strong component of that. Growth was consistent across all segments. So our solutions, our enzymes, our microbes and our proteins are present in a broad range of markets.

We help to make the world a better place. We enable a healthier planet, either by bringing solutions that replace fossil-based alternatives (like bio ethanol and lead for CO2 emissions in the transport segment) or by ensuring lower energy or chemical use, or lower waste-like solutions for textile industry — which in India is a very strong component. In an extremely broad range of markets, we provide solutions for sustainability, higher yields, lower energy consumption, low waste and higher health.

For India, when we look over the last three or four years, a lot of disruptions have happened. We have had GST, demonetisation, and then the pandemic. These disruptions have led to industry consolidation. When we take a wider horizon of three to five years, we’ve actually done very well. Today, we are better positioned to capture emerging (demand).

While Novo has a very wide global portfolio of products, in India, you are seen as a player at the premium end of the market. Has there been any India specific innovation to cater to the needs of the local market?

In the India context, we have premium customers — where our technology is cut, copy and paste — but we have also, over the last 40 years, built insight on what is required for the mid and value segments here.

For example, in household care, you have low-end detergents that cost ₹60 a kilo against a premium ₹250 a kilo. The premium part is easy but we have done innovation to address the mass market segment too. Take the bar soap segment. It is a format we don’t see in the Western world. And we’ve now innovated there by introducing enzyme technology in the soap bar and dish bars. This is something we can take to other emerging markets too.

Onbio-fuels, the government has talked of blended fuels of 20 per cent by 2025 from the current 10 per cent. We have played an active role in advocacy there, working with the Joint Task Force. So innovation across segments is happening.

Emerging markets are a big focus for us as a company and India is a very important player in that. India is critical for Novozymes success. It is a strong contributor to our growth and to the talent that helps keep the machine of Novozymes running.

The facilities and plants that we have here supply to the rest of Novozymes. The capabilities that we have in IT and in finance too support the rest of the company. We’re going to continue to invest here. We produce in India for India, and we produce in India for the globe. So we look at our Indian operations as a global asset.

We just acquired Synergia for an investment of around ₹1,100 crore and that has a large footprint in India.

What is the top three market segments for Novozymes in India?

They pretty much reflect our global (portfolio) of household care, food, and technical; maybe technical —  the enzymes we supply to the textiles industry and other things — is slightly higher here.