Food and beverage company Lake Foods, a division of South African chemicals group AECI, on Tuesday launched its new dairy application centre in Cape Town.
The centre will assist customers with new product innovation and development, as well as product improvements.
Lake Foods is the exclusive representative for international manufacturers and suppliers of specialty ingredients and commodities and offers products and services to the bakery, beverage, dairy, health and nutrition, meat, poultry and wine industries.
These products include bacterial cultures, enzymes, natural colours, testing systems, phosphates, stabilisers, emulsifiers, baking powders, brines, spice blends and marinades.
The centre is a partnership with global bioscience company Christian Hansen, which provides financial backing to AECI at the Lake Foods facility. The centre will enable Christian Hansen to reinforce its position in Africa, which is one of its growth markets, alongside that of India and China.
Christian Hansen will seek to develop, for the local and export markets, health-focussed methods and innovations to not only reduce the sugar and fat content in certain dairy products, but also to provide lactose and preservative free products, while keeping the “same great taste”, Christian Hansen executive VP Jacob Vishof Paulsen told delegates attending the opening ceremony.
There are other Christian Hansen-led application centres in Russia, India and Australia, but Tuesday’s event marked the company’s “entrance into Africa”.
Christian Hansen dairy technical manager Lara Aylward explained that the centre would be used to replicate household conditions for dairy products, such as yogurt, so that the company is able to support its customers throughout the product development life cycle, with capacity in research and development (in terms of shelf life, for example), manufacturing, packaging and logistics.
This is critical, considering that the one-third of the world’s food that is discarded, can be used to feed the hungry, particularly in regions such as Africa, where poverty remains a big socioeconomic challenge.
The centre is not yet a fully fledged production facility but is, for the time being, focusing on batch processing, AECI food and beverage MD Roger Falck told Engineering News Online.
While the equipment itself can handle any number of projects, he explained that each person in the centre would have the capacity to manage one end-to-end project a week, “which is a fairly quick turnaround time”.
Right now, the centre only has one individual working within it, namely Aylward, but, as resources allow, the AECI would look to expand the facility’s capacity in future, Falck added.
AECI, which is largely known for its explosives and chemicals specialties, previously identified food and beverage as a strategic growth pillar, which is where Lake Foods is positioned.
The company’s other pillars include mining solutions, water and process, plant and animal health and chemicals.