Center for Excellence
In 2010 Muntons officially opened their $660,000 new product development and innovation facility, their ‘Center for Excellence’ located at its headquarters in Stowmarket, Suffolk in the UK. This purpose-built facility was created not just for Muntons own innovation and NPD, but also to support their customers through the development of product applications where malt makes all the difference.
The Center for Excellence offers a variety of useful facilities such as a new product development kitchen, sensory evaluation room, test bakery, offices and conference suite and a microbrewery/winery. Having all these facilities under one roof helps to speed the development process, to ensure that innovation is a constant process and new products are brought to market quickly and frequently.
Whether it’s a new ingredient under development or a product to be matched, the NPD center is the where the magic happens. It’s not just a kitchen though, as pilot scale versions of Muntons entire factory malting and ingredient process can be mimicked in every way. With micro versions of their vacuum band-drier, spray-driers and evaporators the team can experiment with liquid and dried extracts without interfering with mainstream production. They also have a bench-top flour mill, an ultra-filter, a tumble mixer and a grist mill to crush grains ready for test brewing.
Food loves malt, from breads to cookies, from chocolate to ice-cream from sushi to burgers. The bakery is always a hive of activity and tantalizing smells. As the name suggests, the bakery is the perfect place to mimic the processes found in large scale baked goods factories. Featured in this room is a Hobart food and dough mixer and a dough-sheeter, used in the production of laminated doughs such as croissants and sweet doughs such as Cinnabon’s or even cookies. These can either be transferred to the prover or straight in to the Tom Chandley deck ovens for baking.
Chocolates and confectionery can be made in the bakery, using chocolate with a tempering tank and confectionery molds. Being able to simulate the equipment and processes used in large scale factories is essential. It allows us to create application samples to showcase to our customers, truly reflective of the final factory product. This is also used in our investigative studies to aid our understanding of the benefits of malted ingredients in varying applications. When customers visit, they are often familiar with our equipment, which helps them replicate the processes back at their base. We use what they use, and it gives them confidence that they can recreate our products on return to their own facilities.
At Muntons we understand that great beers begin with great malt, and that our customers are looking to brew unique beers of exceptional quality. Within our one-hectoliter micro-brewery we have a grist hopper, mash tun, wort collection tank, a kettle/whirlpool, and two fermenters. In addition, we have a beer pump and a bottler/carbonator. This unique facility provides the tools needed to create exceptional beers using malts from our extensive portfolio, ready for replication on an industrial scale. Some of our partners even come to our site and we brew with them for the day.
Our sensory room is equipped with individual tasting booths lit using either white light, or red masking light where food color variation needs to be disguised. We have a team of trained tasters who evaluate flavors, textures and aromatic properties to help fine tune products as part of our development process. Whether we are looking at foods or beverages, this exacting method ensures that we have complete control over the development process to create the perfect products for our customers.
The output from our Center for Excellence in Stowmarket is also emulated in Bangkok in our Thailand facilities. Here a team of dedicated personnel strive to deliver innovation and newness to the region and are often in close liaison with the team in the UK. It is true to say that we have seen increasing Asian demand for malted ingredients which has led to evolving usage of existing products and new applications focused on market trends in food and beverages.
Market Insight & Understanding
The NPD and Innovation teams regularly liaise with the insight and analysis teams at Muntons too. Our global presence means we can watch emerging and developing trends across all our categories from a worldwide perspective. This insight, combined with data from a plethora of sources and partners, helps us formulate a close understanding of the market, its needs and trends. We pass this data to our Innovation teams to drive development of new and existing products, ensuring that the products we take to customers have a market and are relevant to consumers, aligning with global and local trends as appropriate. It is this combination of market insight, trend evaluation and innovative product development which sets Muntons apart from the rest.