AAK has officially opened their new innovation center. The facility, named AAKtion Lab and based at their USA headquarters in Edison, New Jersey, will be the flagship application lab for the company’s co-development process.

Terry Thomas, president, AAK USA, Inc. said, “We couldn’t be happier to share this important day in AAK’s history with so many of our key customers, local dignitaries, industry press and our hardworking AAK team. AAKtion Lab allows us to fully execute our co-development approach and will be a huge benefit to AAK’s customer partners. Customers can come to us with any of the Bakery and Chocolate & Confectionery industry’s toughest formulation challenges and our team of industry experts will work hand in hand with them to deliver value-adding solutions and forward-thinking innovation to create finished products that consumers will love.”

Dr. James S. Jones, who leads the AAK USA innovation team as vice president customer innovation said, “Today’s manufacturers are faced with some tough formulation challenges, such as converting from PHO to non-PHO and addressing clean label concerns. AAKtion Lab will allow us to provide new solutions for customers and will primarily be used for the first three stages of our Co-Development process: Exploration and Ideation, Solutions Creation, and then testing in application.”

AAK’s customer innovation team developed several prototypes and demos for today’s Grand Opening event that showcase AAKtion Lab’s unique capabilities. They highlight some of the cutting edge technology in the facility and include AAK’s brand of multi-functional fats that are non-hydrogenated, zero trans and low in saturated fat. Demos developed for today’s event include:

  • Pan de Chocolate – This chocolate croissant showcases elements of both the AAK bakery and CCF labs using new lamination and sheeting equipment. Cisao® 8120, a votated shortening, is incorporated in the dough to offer ease of handling, and dough machinability. Cisao 8285 is incorporated as the lamination fat in place of traditional butter. It contains no color or flavors, allowing the end user to customize it to their and consumers’ desires. It provides the traditional flakiness associated with high end butter croissants, reduced saturated fat by 30%, and improved handling tolerances over crucial temperature ranges.
  • Shortbread Cookie featuring compound coating – This cookie includes Cisao 8312, a pliable shortening with a texture that allows for better machinability, creaming and better processing tolerance. The compound coating is created with the confectionary lab’s enrobing machine and cooling tunnel and utilizes Cebes® NH, a non-temper fat based on lauric fats providing excellent gloss and a very pleasant and fast meltdown.
  • Biscuits with Butter or Cinnamon Flakes – This biscuit features a crumbly soft texture, lift, and delicate air pockets. It includes Cisao 8253-12-05, a shortening flake with cinnamon, and 8253-61-02, a shortening flake with natural butter flavor and beta carotene. These flakes provide an even distribution of fat, a flaky texture, and the visual appeal of bits of cinnamon and butter, all without a traditional roll-in process. Cisao 8120, a pliable shortening with a texture that allows for better machinability and better process tolerance, is incorporated into the dough.
  • Molded Milk and Dark Chocolate Bar – These dark and milk chocolate bars showcase the CCF lab’s tempering machine and cooling tunnel, as well as hand tempering by the innovation team. The bars’ confectionery coating fats have the same physical properties and triglyceride composition as cocoa butter, offering a smooth meltaway, and uniform distribution of fat, for a smooth mouthfeel.
  • Brioche – This traditional yeast leavened butter egg bread also features Cisao 8285 margarine containing no color or flavor, which enables the customer to customize it to fit their needs. It will replace traditional butter, lowering saturated fats, and providing increased tolerance to temperature variations in the production process.

Jones added, “AAKtion lab will also be used to organize practical courses and classes (AAK Academies) on bakery, chocolate/compound coatings, and combination bakery/coatings & fillings. These academies will promote new product innovation and educate our customers.”

Thomas concluded, “AAKtion Lab, along with bakery application labs in Louisville, Kentucky and Richmond, California and our acquisition of California Oils in Richmond, California last year, deliver on our brand promise to provide vegetable oils and fats that bring a local, regional and global approach to solving some of our customer’s toughest formulation challenges. We wouldn’t be here today without our customer partners; we will continue to invest in the latest technology and ensure that our team of innovation experts can deliver value-adding solutions to our customer partners, every day.”