The Manildra Group USA Innovation Center at the company’s North American headquarters in Leawood provides a collaboration space designed to support a wide range of bakery, cereal and snack products. Neal Bassi, president, said the company’s solution-focused mindset helps customers achieve efficient and meaningful success while fostering vital customer/supplier relationships.
“By creating a highly collaborative environment we can bring together our quality control, ingredient expertise and finished product application knowledge in a way that gives our customers a competitive advantage,” Mr. Bassi said. “As we all address consumer demands in this changing marketplace, we are now able to collaborate with food manufacturers from beginning to end on products ranging from organic to clean label to high protein.”
At Manildra, the wheel that keeps the Innovation Center turning is spoked by five key concepts. The first is market need. The four others that follow are identifying an ingredient concept, which leads to process development, applications studies, prototype creation and works its way back around to the market need. Mr. Bassi said the lab capabilities at the innovation center provide bakers and food producers the opportunity to perform this full-circle development process.
“The development process allows us to commit to finding results with our customer to meet the market needs and challenges that bakers and other food manufacturers are facing,” Mr. Bassi said.
The R.&D. team develops the ingredient and then hands it over to the applications team to approve before scaling up for a plant trial. This eliminates unnecessary downtime and creates a more efficient plant trial process, Mr. Bassi explained. Then, the ingredient returns to the applications team and is presented to the customers.
The 4,000-square-foot innovation center was built in December 2016 when the company relocated its North American headquarters from Hamburg, Iowa, to Leawood. The lab’s capabilities span from ingredient development to finished food formulation to texture analysis throughout shelf life. Manildra can produce most wheat-based foods, from bread and cakes to tortillas and pancakes. The innovation center team also provides upfront analytical testing, including tests related to absorption, gluten strength, viscosity and more.
Manildra’s educational opportunities at the lab are customer-specific, and the company develops customized training plans to blend its portfolio of ingredients with application-specific objectives to optimize baking solutions. Manildra also publishes “TECH talks” bimonthly on its web site to keep customers up-to-date with research and new advances.
“Think of us as an extension of our customers’ R.&D. teams,” Mr. Bassi said, adding that the innovation center is designed to be a place of development and collaboration.