The new center brings together the company’s ingredient innovation and pilot plant facilities, and includes a scaled-down edible oils production facility to produce shortenings and oils on site, as well as an extrusion pilot plant to test cereal and snack food applications made with milled grain products. Currently, there is particular interest in developing foods that include whole grains and snacks that are free from trans fats, the company said.
President and CEO of Bunge North America Soren Schroder said: "This state-of-the-art facility ensures we can quickly take our ingredient solutions from concept through commercialization."
The company said that food manufacturers can work directly with Bunge staff at the center, known as the Bunge Ingredient Innovation Center (BIIC), in the development of new products.
Director of innovation and technical services at Bunge Milling Brian Anderson said: "The BIIC puts us in position to provide our customers with a collaborative innovation environment. We now have the ability to configure customer-specific extruded snack, cereal and ingredient applications on site."
The BIIC also covers development of bakery applications, and analytical and sensory laboratories to help meet nutritional, sensory and functional demands.
Director of research and development at Bunge Oils Roger Daniels said that the company’s team of 25 scientists and support staff has created a portfolio of ingredients to supply trans-fat free shortenings and whole grain products.
He said: "With the BIIC, our customers will be able to test how these solutions improve the nutritional profile and performance of their existing products or work with our experts to develop new products."
Trans fats and whole grains
Interest in producing foods that are free from trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated oils has increased steadily over the past decade, after they were repeatedly linked with increased risk of heart disease.
On the back of growing concern, the Food and Drug Administration issued a regulation that was implemented in 2006 requiring manufacturers to list trans fatty acids on the nutrition panel of foods, providing further motivation for manufacturers to cut trans fats from their products. In addition, there are now trans fat bans in place in many parts of the United States, in areas that encompass about 20 percent of the population.
Meanwhile, manufacturers have flocked to include whole grains in new product offerings following the introduction in 2005 of the Whole Grain Stamp, which indicates high whole grain content. According to the market research organization Mintel, ‘whole grain’ has consistently been among the top 20 new product claims since 2005, and has increased each year. It appeared on 2.3 percent of products launched in 2005 – rising to 5.6 percent in 2010, Mintel said.