USA – Cargill is investing US$6.4 million to expand its food pilot capabilities at its North American Pilot Development Center in Savage, Minnesota, as the company seeks to accelerate customer product launches.

The expanded facility will cover a 6,500-square-foot area and will feature a refinery pilot plant to create new oils and blends using the latest technologies to produce shortenings that have enhanced functionality for specific customer applications.

Cargill will also set up a state-of-the-art fats and oils crystallization center to process shortening, important for ensuring the right textures in newly designed products and a lab equipped to rapidly analyze key fats and oils quality parameters.

According to the company, the new facility will allow the edible oils business to conduct multi-scale, continuous piloting, from the refining of new vegetable oils and blends and ending with innovative shortening solutions.

In addition, the site will also allow the company to pilot other food ingredients, including those used for confectionery products and infant nutrition.

“Expanding our piloting capabilities will help us deliver more quickly what matters most to our customers,” says Florian Schattenmann, chief technology officer, Cargill.

“It allows us to better partner with our customers to evaluate new raw materials, validate performance specifications and develop new products through a distinctive continuum of innovation services all located within the Twin Cities.”

Construction of the new facility, which sits adjacent to Cargill’s existing Engineering R&D Lab in Savage, began in April 2019 and is expected to be fully operational late summer 2020.

The new Center complements Cargill’s state-of-the-art Minneapolis Research and Development Center and Cargill Food Innovation Center.

“Our expanded pilot facility and our Food Innovation Center together will allow us to more quickly respond to customer requests for samples and test their performance in bakery products,” says Sonia Punwani, global bakery category leader for Cargill’s edible oils business.

“This is a big step forward for us to support bakery innovation with the combination of science, customer intimacy, and market insights.”

The new facility joins other pilot and food innovation facilities Cargill also operates including its European Research and Development Centre in Vilvoorde, Belgium, Asia Innovation Centre in Beijing, China, and Cargill Innovation Center in Singapore.