Name: Michael Kuch
Job title: Technical Sales Manager for France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria
My name is Michael Kuch, Technical Sales Manager for Kemin Food Technologies in Germany. I have a daughter and I live in Karlsruhe. And yes, I come from a long line of butchers.
You have a butcher’s background, when did you decide to pursue that line of work?
It’s a story of lineage, really. The butcher’s life has been handed down from father to son in the Kuch family for decades. Both my father and grandfather were butchers. It runs in the family, I guess. Today, I represent version 5.0 (laughing). I grew up in the environment of my father’s butcher shop. Being around quality food was everyday life for me. It’s where I learned that when you assemble an engine, you’re left with a good piece of machinery in the end. But when you prepare a perfect steak, you end up with an experience.
What’s your academic history?
As you’d expect, I became a butcher’s apprentice at first. Afterwards, I went to evening school to chase my master’s degree. Two years later I became a Meat Technician, having learned every detail about meat processing from scratch. During my days in school, I belonged to a group of about 25 young butchers who all shared the same passion: meat. After graduation, we flew out in the world, with some of us leaving Germany to go and work in Canada, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, and other places. I went on to work in artificial casing, choosing to stay in Germany.
Where did your career take you before joining Kemin? How have these experiences shaped you as a professional?
I’ve been in the meat business for nearly 25 years now. Starting out in ’97, I’ve spent a big part of my career gaining experience as a representative for companies supplying artificial- and value-added casings. Interacting with (potential) customers worldwide became something I loved – and still love today. Traveling is a big passion of mine. To combine that with sharing my own knowledge across companies and customers is wonderful. Nothing beats the kick you get out of performing a trial and seeing how the results perfectly match expectations. A great feeling!
How did you find your way to Kemin? What drew you to it?
A former colleague and friend of mine joined Kemin and brought me into the family. From the first day I felt fascinated by the way Kemin handles its commitments to sustainability, protection and care across its products and branches. It’s a special type of DNA that makes sure we never lose sight of why we do what we do. I’m proud to play a part in that philosophy.
What do you love about your job and Kemin as an employer?
I like talking to - and supporting - customers in their application needs. Kemin has fantastic teams, able to handle all kinds of questions right away. Throughout the pandemic, Kemin supported us and our families in remote working, to prevent some of us going crazy from being stuck at home all the time. We even hosted a science webinar for our children that ended up in chaos, but a beautiful chaos at that. I laughed myself to bits when I joined in to see how it was going. Just one example of how we do things a little different, yet right.
What are your own favourite food solutions?
My personal number one food safety solution would be BactoCEASE®NV, our buffered vinegar solution to combat spoilage bacteria. The same goes for frying oil solution FORTI-FRY™. That one makes for amazing results as it avoids foaming and extends the frying life of oils, especially when it comes to batch frying. Quality solutions are what make my job fun.
What are the most important lessons learned at Kemin?
I’ve learned that we need to understand the mode of action of each single molecule before we offer it to the market as a solution, so we possess plenty of knowledge about all kinds of antimicrobial and antioxidant solutions. This scientific background is key to us, as well as to our customers. Along with Kemin’s own seminars, like sales training sessions, it helps us to further develop our position every day.
What part does food safety play in your professional life?
In short: a big one. Food safety is extremely important nowadays - and it should be. It is, in fact, essential for our customers to be on the safe side. It’s a commitment we make to avoid failures, re-calls and so on.
Where do you think the food challenges of the future lie?
What I see is that the market requires more and more label-friendly solutions with a clear and transparent label. Customers want to know what is in their food. They demand recognisable kitchen ingredients they can trust. Show what you’re using and why, it’s that simple. Furthermore, a second trend I see is the growing vegetarian and vegan market
How does the emerging market of meat alternatives and analogues influence your area of expertise?
The way these kinds of protein replacements are produced is actually very similar to meat processing. The machinery is about the same - blending, mixing, forming – all comparable to meat processing. When using all these vegetable sources, producers need to apply some fats or oils to the food, which are prone to oxidation. It’s an area we can certainly bring something good to the table: offering a natural antioxidant to guarantee appearance and taste for increased shelf-life and more.
As a German, what’s your favourite meat dish?
For me, I love all kinds of food. What’s especially important is to have a truly memorable experience when enjoying it. An experience could come from different flavours or textures of food, not to forget the environment where you’re eating it, its surroundings, smells, lighting and more. Of course, a food experience comes to life when experiencing it in good company.
What are the most popular food applications in the German market?
In Germany, it’s easy to find all kinds of food items. However, Germany leads the way in varieties of bread, sausages, and cold cuts. As mentioned before, protein replacement is gaining more and more market share, not in the least in Germany.
What are some of your favourite pastimes outside of work?
I love to prepare food myself, so cooking is one of my favourite hobbies. If not at home, you might find me out tasting food in different places, especially when I’m on holiday abroad. It’s one of my favourite ways to relax. On the other hand, there’s scuba diving. I’ve been on many excellent dive trips and in a way, both hobbies have the same kind of adventures to offer. Discovering new foods compared with discovering sea life. Dive. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
What’s your personal motto?
It’s lengthy, but here you go. Talk to people, be supportive, use all your competencies and be yourself. Oh yes, don’t forget to have some fun along the way.