DSM posted a strong fourth-quarter operating profit of 170 million euros in FY2010. This is 17% higher than the operating profit in the year before.
In a recent interview with The Business Times, Schwalb credited the company's strong profits mainly to its nutrition sector. "(This) sector is more stable in general; it did not feel the effects of the economic crisis in 2009, unlike others," he said.
The nutrition division saw organic sales grow by 2%, mainly driven by higher volumes.
Currently, DSM has four main arms - nutrition, pharmaceutical products, performing materials and polymer intermediates.
The Dutch company moved from being a predominantly chemical-based outfit 11 years ago to one that is focused on improving the marriage between life sciences and material sciences.
DSM is looking to grow globally by leveraging on high-growth economies, innovation and acquisitions while focusing on sustainability. This is in line with the increased global attention on sustainable and environmentally-friendly consumption.
"In the past, sustainability was a corporate social responsibility," said Schwalb. 'Now, it is more like a business driver. Our customers want products that are sustainable -- those that are made out of renewable, biodegradable materials."
Citing the resin industry as an example, Schwalb said, "Old-style resin coatings are already forbidden in most countries, and we have to invent new ones that have new sustainability profiles that are not as bad (for the environment)."
The company also has ambitious plans to expand into the Asia-Pacific region, where many of its targeted high-growth economies are located. To facilitate this, a regional hub was opened in Singapore late last year.
"There is so much activity from this region, which is why we want to establish a business headquarters here," said Schwalb.
When asked if Singapore had other roles to play in the company's expansion, plans for an upcoming technology center there were mentioned. The center is said to aid the company in testing materials and applications.
The company has a diverse portfolio from super-strong fibers and plastics to special food products, like enzymes and yeast extracts, and nutritional products such as vitamins and carotenoids.
From the April 4, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition