STRONG OPERATING BUSINESS
Grains & Food, which returned to growth in 2017, was able to sustain its upward trend in 2018 and increased order intake by 3.2% to CHF 2.2 billion. Turnover grew 9.2% to CHF 2.2 billion. The growth was fueled by the growing demand in the consumer foods market. Bühler’s Consumer Foods business area achieved a growth rate of more than 20% due to extraordinarily large orders from Japan, Germany, and the US. Milling experienced moderate growth as a result of Southeast Asia and China increasing investment in food security. We also progressed with our single machine business, namely, with our optical sorters. In the high-end optical sorting market we have gained market share, strongly driven by new applications for fruits and vegetables.
With Mill E3, Milling Solutions introduced a completely new concept that revolutionizes industrial milling. With the integrated grinding system Arrius, preassembled and tested modules, and a power-bus bar system, Mill E3 reduces energy consumption by 10%, enables 30% faster installation, and a 30% reduction of investment into construction. We are reducing the height of the building by half, to three floors. Grain Quality & Supply continued to be the clear market leader for the brewery market, winning major orders for malting. In 2018, we also saw improvements in the grain storage market, where we strengthened our market position.
In Digital Technologies we established our position as a leader for digitalization. We introduced more than 20 digital innovations, achieved sizable first turnover, and we entered into a partnership with Microsoft. Within this business area, our sorting business did especially well with the growth in new market segments such as fruits and vegetables, creating technologies for the grading of products, and for separating contaminants.
Following the successful integration of Haas in 2018, Bühler decided to strengthen its leading position in the consumer foods market with the creation of a new business pillar beginning 2019. The new Consumer Foods business includes the Bakery, Wafer, Biscuit, Chocolate & Coffee, and Confectionery business units.
With the Networking Days in Changzhou, China, which focused on animal nutrition, Bühler positioned itself as a leading solution provider in the global feed market. The three-day event at this new manufacturing and R&D center for the feed industry attracted over 1,000 guests from over 30 countries.