Baking & Snack - May 2018 - 130
featured innovation center
AAK USA: AT THE FOREFRONT OF CO-DEVELOPMENT
To solidify its role as a co-development partner for its customers, AAK USA, Inc. opened its second Customer Innovation
Center in Louisville, KY, earlier this year. The center supports
its focus on bakery, dairy and chocolate/confectionery segments with a bakery lab, pilot plant and analytical lab.
"At the heart of our business is our customer development approach," said Terry Thomas, president, AAK USA, during a press
event for the new facility. "At AAK we believe that in a changing
world, lasting business value is created through collaboration."
This innovation center in Louisville, as well as the one in Edison,
NJ, and a third opening in Richmond, CA, later this year, exist to
foster that collaboration with AAK's customers.
The co-development process begins with ideation of product concepts and solutions, and in the Customer Innovation
Centers, those ideas are developed and tested. "That's where the
application centers specifically come into play, ensuring that
functionality is right before they head into production," Mr.
Co-located with the company's fats and oils manufacturing facility in Louisville, the center provides AAK with a second bakery application lab specifically for customers in the
southeast and Midwest. "The decision on where to locate our
Customer Innovation Centers was based on proximity to mar-
130 Baking & Snack May 2018 / www.bakingandsnack.com
kets and customers," said Mark Becker, vice-president, sales
and marketing. "With bakery being regional in nature, it made
sense to serve local markets, hence three bakery labs will be
The bakery lab features capabilities to produce biscuits,
cakes, cookies, fillings, icings, frozen dough, laminated products, pizza, flatbreads, pastries and yeast-raised dough. "It enables us to give customers the opportunity to see application
solutions in high-quality prototypes," Mr. Becker said. "It really
allows us to work hand-in-hand with our customers."
In the pilot plant AAK creates functional value-added samples of its shortenings and oils for customer testing and development. The lab's capabilities include pilot-scale votation and
blend tanks among others. "It's about increasing customer support and decreasing the time to solution," Mr. Becker said.
The analytical lab allows the company to test its fats and oils
for new product development. "It enables us to rapidly pinpoint
the optimal inputs to meet the desired functionality, product
attributes and label considerations," Mr. Becker explained. The
analytical lab can bleach, filter, intersterify, hydrogenate, deodorize and more. It's here that AAK tests the melt points, iodine values, free fatty acids and other characteristics of the fats
and oils it develops.