Cargill is investing $6.4 million to expand its food pilot capabilities at its North American Pilot Development Center in Savage, Minn., enabling bakery customers to increase their speed to market with new products.
The new facility will allow the edible oils business to conduct multi-scale, continuous piloting, starting with refining new vegetable oils and blends and ending with innovative shortening solutions for breads, cakes, cookies, frying and other uses. Other food ingredients, including those used for confectionery products and infant nutrition, can be piloted at the site as well.
“Expanding our piloting capabilities will help us deliver more quickly what matters most to our customers,” Cargill chief technology officer Florian Schattenmann said. “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 [of Minnesota].”
Highlights of the 6,500 sq. ft. facility include:
- A refinery pilot plant to create new oils and blends using the latest technologies to produce shortenings with enhanced functionality for specific customer applications;
- A state-of-the-art fats and oils crystallization center to process shortening, which is important for ensuring the right textures in newly designed products, and
- A lab equipped to rapidly analyze key fats and oils quality parameters.
Construction of the new facility, which sits adjacent to Cargill’s existing Engineering Research & Development Lab in Savage, began in April 2019 and is expected to be fully operational in late-summer 2020. The new center complements Cargill’s state-of-the-art Minneapolis, Minn., Research & Development Center and 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,” said 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 & Development Centre in Vilvoorde, Belgium; the Asia Innovation Center in Beijing, China, and the Cargill Innovation Center in Singapore. It said the global presence allows for broad knowledge sharing to create customized regional solutions.