USA – AAK USA, a leading manufacturer of value-adding specialty vegetable fats and oils, has opened a new Customer Innovation Center in Richmond, California.
The facililty supports co-development work with multiple industry segment-focused labs and houses AAK’s US Center of Excellence for Plant-Based Foods.
The facility also features three Customer Innovation laboratories including a Bakery Lab and Dairy and Plant-based Foods Lab.
The Bakery Lab allows the AAK team to test and experiment with new and current product offerings to bring prototypes straight to customers, to expedite bakery innovation and speed to market.
AAK’s bakery specialists create a wide range of bakery goods using shortenings, hardstocks, frying oils, margarines, cubed shortenings and flaked shortenings.
The Dairy and Plant-based Foods Lab is well equipped with to allow for development of tailor-made dairy products using vegetable fats in place of dairy fat, as well as products that are 100% plant-based foods.
Through the new lab, AAK was able to work in conjunction with other ingredients to develop an industry first, creamy plant-based cheese that can be sliced or shredded without crumbling.
The lab also focuses on solutions which replace milk fat in a variety of consumer products including butter alternatives, cheese analogs, plant-based creamers, whipped toppings, plant-based yogurts and frozen desserts like ice cream.
“AAK has over fifteen Customer Innovation Centers worldwide and has opened multiple locations across the U.S. over the last several years,” says Octavio Diaz de Leon, President of AAK USA and AAK North Latin America.
“Our Richmond Customer Innovation Center investment offers an additional 2,000 square feet of co-development space and delivers on our commitment to providing our customer-partners coast-to-coast service and support.
“We accelerate innovation using AAK’s Co-Development approach, and our expansive team of fats and oils, bakery, dairy, plant-based foods and personal care experts, all coming together to create real-world formulation solutions.”
The state-of-the-art Customer Innovation Center is staffed with an expansive team of product development experts who have a deep understanding of the many roles that fats and oils play in a customer’s formula and in their process, labels, and value chains.
According to AAK, the team utilizes the same or similar equipment a customer would use, enabling the company to provide hands-on co-development to tackle issues with formulas, ingredient statements, nutrition, processes, and products.
“The addition of our Richmond Innovation Center allows AAK to bring specialty vegetable oil solutions to our West Coast customers in a very collaborative way,” James S. Jones, VP Customer Innovation, Plant-Based Foods, AAK USA added.