Close this search box.

Carlos Bernabé, CEO de INDESPAN

25 de January de 2024





How did a pharmacist and food technologist devote 30 years to research on bakery and cereal products?
The answer can be traced back to my origins, which I will briefly summarise. My paternal grandparents created a baking oven in Alfara del Patriarca (Valencia) in 1880 and I was born and grew up in that bakery surrounded by flour, bread and the heat of the oven’s wood, as my parents took over the business. As a family business, all the brothers and sisters had to work and collaborate in the different tasks of a bakery, including selling to the public. Those were years of great sacrifice for my 5 siblings.
Personally, I was anxious to continue studying and I decided to start studying pharmacy, often combining night work in the bakery with attending classes in the different pharmacy subjects and practicals. Once I finished my degree, I had the immense opportunity to be chosen as a research fellow at the prestigious IATA Institute of the CSIC (Spanish National Research Council). During my stay in the Cereals laboratory, I had the great opportunity to deepen my research into baking, both in terms of ingredients and processes. For me it was the cherry on top of my aspirations as a researcher, as my background as a baker helped me to better understand the science of baking.
After 4 years as an R&D professional for bakery and pastry products in a prestigious company in Barcelona, I understood that the time had come to start my own dream in 1993; which was, no more and no less, to set up a company, INDESPAN, dedicated to the constant innovation and research of solutions for bakery and pastry products, both artisan and industrial.

Can you tell us about your beginnings and your goal?
Like everyone who starts a project on their own, I had to look for premises with modest manufacturing facilities and a laboratory/experimental workshop. I started with the launch of a line of sweet and savoury creams that represented an innovation for the sector in the year the company was founded, 30 years ago.
With a structure of 3 people, we started the project and I had to carry out a wide variety of tasks such as technical director of R&D, formulator, technical assistance to customers, training courses for companies and bakery teachers, large account sales, in addition to the day-to-day work of management. I still can’t explain to this day how I was able to combine so many tasks and get ahead. Those were great years because I could see that the INDESPAN project was accepted by many companies in Spain and I was also starting to dabble in exporting.
Where do I want to go? INDESPAN has been growing in food innovations with a healthy trend, which has led other countries in the American continent to become interested in them. For the last 10 years I have also been an export salesman and I often travel to various countries to present our products to companies and distributors.
My idea is to consolidate these markets and establish alliances with local partners in order to be more effectively present in each country. For example, we are already present in countries such as Peru, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and we are finalising contracts with Bolivia. At the end of 2023, we are well advanced in having a presence in India (vegetarian products) and Morocco (gluten-free products). The year 2024 looks promising for consolidating our international positions.
On another front, R&D&I continues to be present and we are going to start two very important food innovation projects.

In which countries are you exporting your cutting-edge technology?
As I said at the beginning, we are focused on several LATAM countries but in 2024 we will take a big step in India and Morocco. In any case, we are always very open to other countries and I would love to be able to reach neighbouring countries such as Italy, France or Germany.

What people have inspired you as an entrepreneur?
It is difficult to name them all, because I think that every company has had figures worthy of admiration who at some point in their lives decided to start a project, where everything is at stake, projects where time is taken away from family, friends, etc., where the vital focus is on your creation and you are always uncertain whether it is going to work or not. But there are people who have inspired me and have passed on to me values that are indispensable for creating and not giving up in bad times. The main one was my father, who injected me with the culture of hard work from a very young age. In companies in my sector, I have always admired people like Rafael Juan and his family, who have created a model business group from an artisan bakery/pastry shop in their home town. The Martínez family, Isabel Martínez and her brothers and sisters were able to join forces to create a leading company in their sector from an artisan bakery in their home town in Burgos.

In another sector, I would highlight a visionary and great entrepreneur, Carlos Serrano (deceased), who from a butcher’s shop in Alboraya Street in Valencia, together with his family, managed to create one of the most prestigious companies in the meat sector. Today, his sons Carlos and Abelardo continue the work undertaken by the Serrano family.

But Carlos, you are neither a bakery, nor a bakery nor a pastry shop. What exactly does Indespan do?
That’s a good question! INDESPAN is the acronym for INVESTIGACION Y DESARROLLO PANADERO SL, and its name says it perfectly. We are food technologists, researchers, bakery scientists who create formulas so that the bakery and pastry professional, both artisan and industrial, can use them in the process of elaboration of their products. We manufacture powdered formulas that the customer uses as a raw material in his recipes. In addition to manufacturing bakery powder solutions, we are advisors, trainers and accompany companies in the sector in their new challenges or innovations. We offer our R&D acquired over many years of experience to companies wishing to improve their products or innovate in their catalogue. We are our customers’ reliable partner for any project they wish to initiate or improve.

What milestones, products or innovative formulations would you highlight?
In these 30 years of bakery research, we have achieved several milestones that would take too long to list. To sum up the last 10 years, I would highlight the participation in the improvement of school breakfasts for children in Egypt, the creation of the first gluten-free bakery in Cuba (there are already 3), different CDTI and IVACE projects together with AINIA.
As far as product innovations are concerned, I would highlight the wide range of healthy bakery and pastry products and those aimed at the coeliac or diabetic population. The healthy line is very important as consumers increasingly want to look after themselves through a correct and nutritious diet. Formulas to make breads for anaemia, to reduce cholesterol, to regulate intestinal transit or the latest innovation such as the line of breads and sweets with a high protein and fibre content and very low in carbohydrates. We have been researching for years to improve their nutrition and the quality of the baked products they eat.