Malt Products Corp. (MPC), with headquarters in Saddle Brook, NJ, recently unveiled its newly renovated, state-of-the-art drying plant in Dayton, OH.

MPC invested $15 million in the updates. At the heart of this renovation is a 58-foot-long Bucher Unipektin vacuum belt dryer.

The new dryer caps a five-year, $50 million investment from MPC that includes the 2015 expansion of its state-of-the-art brew house, as well as expanded laboratory, R&D and customer application capabilities.

MPC chose the vacuum belt dryer due to its ability to produce free-flowing particulates of viscous sugar syrups, as well as retain flavor, aroma and color. Since vacuum belt drying operates by reducing the pressure in its chamber, moisture is evaporated from the product at lower temperatures. This eliminates oxidation and prevents damage to critical functionalities of the syrup.

The dryer is designed with a heat recovery system that uses steam early in the drying process. Then the residual water is reclaimed and used in the cooling process at the end.

Vacuum belt drying helps protect malted barley’s unique characteristics, including antioxidant content, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Vacuum belt drying also helps avoid burnt notes or other off flavors and aromas, with better control of the Maillard reaction for a consistent final product color.

Malt brings a wide range of flavor and color synergies to product development. From a flavor perspective, it plays into caramel, nutty, fruity, spicy, smoky, toasted, roasted, grainy and other profiles. It acts as a natural humectant while enhancing browning, fermentation, body and/or viscosity.

The ingredients go into products like breads, buns, bagels, sweet goods, bars, cookies, confectionery products and much more. The powder is highly soluble in cold liquids.

MPC runs barley, oats, sorghum, rye and rice to create syrups, as well as liquid and dried extracts. Oat ingredients have trended forward of late, including oat milk as a dairy alternative.

In addition to malted barley extract, MPC also supplies natural sweeteners, including molasses, oat extract, rice syrup, tapioca syrup, agave and honey.

SF&WB visited the Dayton facility to see the new dryer in action. During the visit, Stan Tinsley, national accounts director, noted that this sophisticated vacuum dryer technology opens up the door to ingredient innovation through collaborative, customized ideation with customers.

Tinsley also pointed out that malt extract can help with snack producers and bakers looking to shave down their added sugars declaration.

The new vacuum belt dryer will allow MPC to manufacture new products like additive-free dried honey, agave, molasses and sorghum syrup, suggested Jim Hettinger, plant manager.

Herbert B. Schneider, vice president, noted that through the years, MPC has cultivated a nimble position in the market that helps them meet the needs of large customers—while also catering to smaller customers who have scaled-back order needs, but seek to grow.

MPC was founded in 1957. The company has developed into a leading manufacturer and distributor of malted barley extract and natural sweeteners, growing from a regional supplier of malts to an international company offering a full line of natural sweeteners serving a wide range of industries, including snack food, bakery and confectionery.