This particular project started with a request from chefs in Mexico’s foodservice industry: Could AAK’s industrial customer combine the filling fats that go into baking with the flavors of its chocolate brands? A seemingly simple request, yet one with strategic implications and significant technical challenges.
With end consumers familiar with the brand, they not only have clear expectations regarding taste, but of the whole sensory experience. The same experience must be delivered in the baked form in order to support and enhance brand reputation. Baking spans over many different applications and processes, requiring the solution to be multi-functional and extremely flexible.
Understanding the technical and sensory challenges
This was the first project of its kind for this customer in the North Latin America region, and the first step in the process was for AAK specialists to walk the customer’s value chain – from plant to brand. Here, we gained a better understanding of the breadth of potential applications and identified a specific need to increase thermal stability in the oven. It was also confirmed that our potential solution would need to be sourced in compliance with the company’s sustainability policies, specifically related to palm oil.
From an early stage, it became clear that we did not have an existing solution within our portfolio, so technical resources were allocated to support those of our customer. In close collaboration, we mapped the ideal functional and sensory profiles, including the baking characteristics of the imported filling fat most commonly used in the North Latin America region that we needed to match.
Practice makes perfect
AAK’s Customer Innovation Center in Morelia, Mexico was fully integrated into the project. Here, we could offer the opportunity to create, test and analyze potential solutions in a pilot plant facility where baking processes closely mirrored those in foodservice.
This testing process included small-batch consumer trials to gauge sensory performance and technical trials to match exact functionality across a large number of applications. Achieving multi-functionality proved to be the greatest challenge, but persistence, patience and teamwork paid off.
Your favorite brand experiences – now in bakery
The result was a small miracle: one flexible solution created for multiple baking applications. It could be customized to the needs of the final application: spreadability, good crystallization, heat stability, freezable, good viscosity for coating, and good mouthfeel.
The solution delivers perfectly against consumers’ sensory expectations from their favorite chocolate brands. Brand reputations have been strengthened and extended into the baking segment, opening the door to the Mexican foodservice industry for this international company.
An additional benefit of the solution is that it can be produced locally, reducing costs and with shorter production lead times. The solution has been regularly requested since launch and is incorporated into a growing number of foodservice products.
Close collaboration played a critical role in the success of this project and we really acted as one team with a common goal. As a result of the project, the relationship between our two companies has further strengthened.