KENYA – The global ingredients solution provider, Ingredion Incorporated has launched a new state-of-the-art Idea Lab innovation centre in Nairobi, Kenya, the company’s first in the region.

According to Ingredion, the centre seeks to deliver the much needed technical support and culinary know-how to customers across Eastern Africa.

It is set to benefit food and beverage manufacturers in the bakery, savoury, dairy, beverages, confectionary and processed meat sectors through innovation and new product development.

The new centre houses global expertise in consumer insights, applied research, applications knowhow, process technology and will also offer practical training in food starch technology.

“Africa is home to a diverse nation of culinary tastes, religions and languages which poses its own unique set of challenges and opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers.

As customers look to meet these consumer needs, we are seeing an increased demand for prototype and formulation development particularly in looking at product shelf life, texture and scaling up.

“Housing the latest modern technology and equipment, our new Idea Lab is dedicated to fostering science-based collaboration and problem solving for customers.

By taking advantage of our consumer research and market insights customers can align new product development with the unique needs of their markets,” said Lawrence Mbithi, Business Manager, Ingredion Kenya.

With the help of Ingredion’s technical expertise, Mbithi said customers will be upskilled in culinary technology that encompasses both testing and starch technologies and processes.

“From concept testing and cost savings approaches to deep expertise in ‘Culinology’ and clean label formulation, our technical experts will be best placed to partner with customers using tested and proven starch technologies and processes.”

With access to global expertise in consumer insights, applied research, applications knowhow and process technology, the innovation centre in Nairobi is dedicated to helping food and beverage manufacturers fast-track innovation and new product launches, says Mbithi.

In addition, it will also open up its doors to university students to provide practical training and advice on food starch technology.

According to him, the centre will host training days with students from four partner universities across the region in a bid to provide a critical link between business and education, where students will be trained on food starch technology, with a possibility of introducing student internships.

This Idea Lab is an extension of the global network of Ingredion Idea Labs innovation centers around the World, which currently number 27, according to Kennedy Ouma, the Business Director, Africa at Ingredion, who opened the Centre.

Ouma says that the new facility in Kenya has capability to serve the food and beverage industry with their unique ideas, and that the company is focused on working one-on-one with the food and beverage companies in the region to fast track their innovations.

At the launch, customers across the various sectors of the food and beverage industry in Kenya were invited and given an opportunity to interact with the staff and experience for themselves the possibilities that the lab will provide to their companies.

Prior to the opening of the centre support for new products development came from Idea Labs innovation centres in Johannesburg, South Africa and Hamburg, Germany.

Ingredion now boasts six Idea Labs in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, increasing the reach of its technical expertise in this fast growing region.

The innovation centre has launched with a team of five people across technical, business development and sales and will expand in line with customer demand, says Ouma.

The opening of Ingredion’s Idea Labs adds to the recent entries and investments by leading international suppliers into Kenya, as these giants seek to take advantage of rising incomes, urbanisation and changing consumer tastes that continue to drive demand for food and beverage product in the region.