Manufacturers who outsource R&D projects save in expensive technical resources.
Developing new and exciting products requires significant investment in R&D and marketing. Many companies find it difficult to justify costly endeavors in times of economic downturns so, often, outsourcing provides a feasible option.

Century Foods International (Sparta, Wis.) manufactures and markets dairy protein ingredients and does contract manufacturing for private label clients in the food, sports, health and nutritional supplement industries. The company has a long history in the dairy industry, as well as a staff with decades of experience in the manufacturing and utilization of dairy proteins. Recently, it has expanded its expertise to include grain- and egg-based protein sources.

Assisting R&D

An ingredient's solubility, dispersibility and/or impact on product flavor can be an issue in product formulation. All three of these factors often come into play when whey proteins are used in a beverage.

For example, a powdered mix that “clumps” upon addition to a liquid frustrates customers. One solution is to agglomerate the complete mix, or just key ingredients within the mix, resulting in “instantized” powders which can be easily spoon-stirred or shaken. Or, for another example, lipid-based ingredients can rise to the top and form a ring over a liquid drink's shelflife. Possible solutions include appropriate selection of top-quality functional fats, the use of homogenization and/or altering the processing conditions, and/or mix sequence. “Careful selection of ingredients, based on their intended functionality or purpose, and understanding ingredient interaction is necessary when formulating and processing functional foods,” states Julie Wagner, director of R&D.

Bar applications that feature dairy proteins have a completely new set of challenges, as each type of protein has its own absorption rate and water-binding characteristics. Finding that unique balance is a challenge in relatively low water activity environments. Again, ingredient interaction knowledge plays a tremendous role in successful product development.

For example, many aldehyde flavors undergo a Schiff's reaction to react with proteins. The flavoring is “bound” by the molecule and cannot be detected by the consumer. Options include the use of flavoring systems designed to go well with proteins, or the alteration of the protein mix between soy and dairy products to obtain the desired flavor profile. Selection of flavor and flavor-enhancing systems is critical not only to flavoring protein-based products but—as most nutritional bars contain relatively high doses of vitamins and minerals—also to masking. Again, the right balance of all nutrients is critical to bar development, where a minor ingredient deviation of only 1% can throw off the whole mix, says Wagner.

Superior Technical Expertise

To support a product in all stages of development, the company has invested heavily in skilled technical staff and state-of-the-art labs. “Our main point of differentiation is our technical expertise. In addition to this experience, our infrastructure of plants and analytical laboratories is second to none,” states Rick Halverson, national sales director.

By offering its customers a vertically integrated, one-stop shop, Century Foods helps clients achieve their product goals while saving them time and investment dollars. The company holds a variety of certifications, such as ISO 9001, USDA, Grade A, American Baking Institute and kosher.

For more information:
Rick Halverson at 608-269-1900, or 800-269-1901
Century Foods International Write in 400