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Message from the CEO

What a year it has been… again! I thought that we would be out of the pandemic turbulence by the end of 2021. But entering a new year, the COVID-19 virus is still determining almost everything we do. This has once more presented all of us with tremendous challenges. I can only be very proud of what has happened in 2021 in our company, how I have seen our people stand strong, deliver, and look after each other.

The year 2021 has been a year that has tested our resilience more than ever. The sprint has turned into an ultra-marathon – testing our business model, but particularly our people and organization. In the first pandemic year, we saw key parts of our portfolio, ingredients for food and pharma, stay firm by nature, as ‘essential industries’. Hats off to our operations and logistics functions, Corbion managed to continue to deliver, and as a result we grew our sales ahead of the market as well as our own strategic timeline.

This past year, we have seen new challenges and the way our colleagues across the world faced them has been nothing short of fantastic. Growing at a pace three to four times faster than the market comes with growing pains. Driving big expansion projects or the roll out of our new SAP system, with travel restrictions limiting mobility, has been a true tour de force. Then, add the complexity of skyrocketing raw material prices and a global container shortage, and it will be clear it has not been a smooth ride. As a result, we see our margin under pressure and, in addition to driving continuous improvements in operational efficiency, we are taking firm pricing action to ensure it will not endanger our multi-year strategic ambition.

The sales growth in 2021 has been excellent and well ahead of our strategic plan. In Sustainable Food Solutions we saw the investments in building up a solid pipeline really paying off, with high conversion rates. Going from strength to strength, we are leveraging fermentation into our flourishing Preservation business, amongst others, for mold inhibition. In Functional Systems we are integrating more biotech solutions, for example in the area of enzymes. Importantly, we have shown strong reliability despite the logistics and other challenges, which helped expand our customer base.

In Lactic Acid & Specialties the main driver of our strong sales growth has been the bioplastics joint venture Total Corbion PLA. While container issues sometimes impeded growth, we focused on maximizing production in Thailand and preparing for the next PLA plant in Europe. Other key drivers of growth in our lactic acid unit were electronics and pharma. Biomaterials also performed well, with new technology for slow-release drug delivery gaining traction and non-elective surgeries partly recovering from COVID-19 lows.

Our Algae Ingredients business continued to deliver on expectations and is on track to reach its EBITDA break-even target in 2022. We achieved massive volume growth due to our new pricing strategy combined with the launch of a new much higher-yielding strain, which was rapidly progressed from pilot to plant by our teams in San Francisco and Orindiúva. We expanded our portfolio and enlarged our customer base, now that our algae-based feed product for aquaculture has proven itself to be a sustainable and price-competitive alternative to fish oil.

We continue to invest in innovation across our business areas, both in our processes and in expanding our sustainable offering for our customers. To amplify our efforts, we are stepping up in Open Innovation, which will help us fill our pipeline further, through partners, and with an open eye for adjacent technologies.

While our people were working extremely hard to run and grow our company, we did not compromise on our sustainability ambitions, which actually start with the health and safety of our people. We have made great strides on our safety journey, with less recordables and the roll-out of a global safety program focused on mindset and behavioral changes.

I feel very strongly about mental well-being. We have been missing out on social events, holidays, and simple human interaction to recharge our batteries, and at the same time so much more is asked from us in our roles at Corbion. This demanding mix has led to some degree of mental fatigue for most of us. Our strong culture, built on our core values Care, Courage, Commitment, and Collaboration, has helped us here tremendously. Also, we have taken it upon ourselves to help our people to take care of their mental health, for example by providing full access to Headspace, a science-based well-being app for everyone.

In line with our purpose Preserving What Matters we continue to focus on protecting our planet and its species and on fighting climate change, and we show it can be done.

In 2021, we achieved a 27% reduction of our GHG emissions per ton of product compared to 2016, overachieving our intermediate 2025 target ahead of plan, giving us the confidence we can do more. Given the high level of urgency expressed in the latest IPCC report, we committed to boost the ambition level of our existing 2030 science-based target and to reach net zero emissions in our value chain by no later than 2050.

Our leadership in sustainability was recognized by EcoVadis (Platinum) and CDP (A on Supplier engagement,  A- on Climate, B for Water and Forests).

We feel privileged and proud to be part of such a strong and resilient company, with amazing people, that work so hard for a better Corbion and a better world. We will be looking after all our colleagues in these testing times, as we continue our successful Advance 2025 journey. On behalf of my colleagues, I want to express our gratitude to our customers, suppliers, partners, and shareholders for their continued trust in Corbion.

On behalf of the Executive Committee

Olivier Rigaud