The new centre is located in Merksem, Belgium, and will specialise in margarines and baking fats.
CSM’s director of corporate communications Sonya Richardson told BakeryandSnacks.com: “What we had in place already were a lot of R&D groups spread throughout the world, so we thought ‘let’s bring these people together.’ What we’ve done is brought some structure to it…This centre has a very specific focus on margarines and bakery fats, looking at things like reducing trans-fatty acids, while ensuring good spread.”
Trans-fats, consumer demand for a healthier profile from margarine and public perception that fat is inherently unhealthy are all issues which cause problems for margarine manufacturers.
The new centre aims to deal with these through reformulation, reducing salt and using healthier fats, while finding ways to make them into stable, spreadable or bakery-friendly products.
“The word ‘fat’ has a negative connotation to it. There needs to be a better understanding that we as human beings need these fats,” said Richardson. “…We know that olive oil is a very healthy product, so we want to take that into a spread that is solid enough, because you can’t make pastry with olive oil.”
CSM recently launched Optinature, a range of all-natural baking fats, and the company says that the new centre aims to respond to a growing demand for 100 per cent natural ingredients.
Richardson said that the centre aims not only to come up with products which meet consumer demand, but also to pre-empt demand.
“We work very closely with our customers and they are hearing from consumers what they would like to see. We are about creating the right products. We all want more health in our nutrition,” she said.
The other existing CSM innovation centres in Europe – located in Germany and the UK – focus on bakery ingredients, frozen and bakery products. A fourth centre, to open in the Netherlands in February, will concentrate on sweet ingredients.
CSM also runs four innovation centres in the United States.