AAK, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high value-adding specialty vegetable fats and oils, officially opened its new innovation center last Thursday, March 2. The facility, named “AAKtion Lab,” is located at the company’s US headquarters in Edison, N.J., and will be the flagship application lab for the company’s co-development process.

“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,” said Terry Thomas, president, AAK USA, Inc. “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 and 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 officially leads the AAK USA innovation team as vice president customer innovation.

“Today’s manufacturers are faced with some tough formulation challenges, such as converting from PHO to non-PHO and addressing clean label concerns,” he said. “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 the grand opening and these showcased AAKtion Lab’s unique capabilities. They highlighted some of the cutting edge technology in the facility and included AAK’s brand of multi-functional fats, which are non-hydrogenated, zero trans and low in saturated fat. 

Event demonstrations included: 

• Pan de Chocolate – This chocolate croissant showcased 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 With Compound Coating – This cookie included 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 featured 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 showcased 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 featured 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 and fillings. These academies will promote new product innovation and educate our customers.”

Thomas concluded, “AAKtion Lab—along with bakery application labs in Louisville, Ky., and Richmond, Calif., and our acquisition of California Oils in Richmond, Calif., last year—delivers 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.”


Dr. James S. Jones, Vice President-Customer Innovation 

Dr. James Jones is responsible for leading all customer innovation activities across AAK USA and Canada; this includes the new AAK Innovation Center, AAKtion Lab, in Edison, N.J. The AAK Customer Innovation team led by Dr. Jones drives the AAK Co-Development process that delivers value-adding solutions for a broad range of Customer formulation, product, production, packaging and supply chain challenges.

Dr. Jones brings a wealth of experience to AAK and its customers with more than 30 years of technical experience and three patents. He spent 25 years in product, package and process development for frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable foods. Dr. Jones has held positions with Kraft, Con Agra, Tyson and Schwan’s. He most recently led research and development at Rich Products, working on consumer brands and foodservice. Dr. Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in Food Science from Purdue University.

Christopher Bohm, Customer Innovation Manager—Bakery 

Chris Bohm manages AAK USA & Canada Customer Innovation Bakery Teams out of both New Jersey and Kentucky. He is based at the new AAK Innovation Center, AAKtion Lab, in Edison, N.J., and reports to Dr. James S. Jones, vice president customer innovation.

Bohm, a fourth-generation baker, also holds degrees from Dunwoody College of Technology, American Institute of Baking and Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionery Art. His extensive artisanal and commercial bakery experience greatly benefits the AAK Bakery Innovation Team and their co-development customers. Bohm spent 25 years performing and managing Customer Innovation for Corbion/Caravan Ingredients. In addition to receiving a Global Innovation Award, his bakery applications team was recognized as one of the most profitable and prolific teams at Corbion.

Dr. Ramesh Reddy, Customer Innovation Manager—Chocolate, Confectionery and Specialty Nutrition

Dr. Ramesh Reddy is AAK USA’s Customer Innovation Manager for Chocolate, Confectionery and Specialty Nutrition segments. Dr. Reddy is also responsible for the Fats & Oils Chemistry Lab in Port Newark and works at the new AAK Innovation Center, AAKtion Lab, in Edison, New Jersey. His thorough knowledge of lipid chemistry and extensive experience in the application of fats and oils in food formulation proves invaluable for AAK and their customers as they co-develop solutions to some of today’s toughest formulation, nutrition and production challenges. 

Dr. Reddy came to AAK with nearly seven years of experience in confectionery, fats and oils chemistry and health research, most recently from the Institute for Food Safety and Health in Bedford Park, Ill., where he served as R&D Manager since 2012. He also worked as a Post-Doctoral Scientist in Lipid Chemistry and Health Research at the University of Arkansas and as a product development specialist in Nestle's Confectionery Group in Marysville, Ohio. He holds a B.S. in Food Science and Technology from A.N.G.R. Agricultural University in India; an M.S. in Food Science and Technology from Virginia Tech; a Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition from Ohio State University; and is an IFT College Bowl National Champion. Reddy has a patent and has written more than 40 peer reviewed publications.  

About AAK

AAK’s expertise in oils and fats within food applications, wide range of raw materials, and their broad process capabilities enable them to develop innovative and value-adding solutions across many industries – Chocolate & Confectionery, Bakery, Dairy, Special Nutrition, Foodservice, and more. AAK’s proven record of successfully meeting real world application challenges is based on more than 140 years of experience within oils and fats. Plus, AAK’s unique customer co-development approach brings customers’ skills and know-how together with AAK’s multi-oil capabilities, processing resources and technical support, for lasting results. AAK offers a wide range of raw materials including coconut, palm, palm kernel, soybean, cottonseed, canola, shea, high erucic acid rapeseed (H.E.A.R.), corn, non-GMO Project Verified soy, high oleic sunflower, and high oleic safflower oils. With their broad process capabilities and expertise in oils and fats, AAK develops innovative and value-adding solutions to address formulation challenges of all kinds. 

As a leader in non-hydro solutions, AAK has been working together with customer partners to provide unique value-adding vegetable oil solutions without trans fats for more than a decade. From bakery mixes, laminated doughs, and icing systems to cream filling systems and whipped toppings, AAK meets today’s consumer and legislative requirements without sacrificing quality, turnaround time or competitive prices. 

AAK also continues to lead sustainability efforts and traceability of its raw materials, while making a clear difference to the environment and the local communities where the raw materials are grown and harvested. AAK is a founding member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and offers RSPO-certified material. AAK’s products are derived from renewable crops, with ingredients grown and sourced responsibly as part of a continued commitment to sustainability.

Listed on the NASDAQ OMX Stockholm and with a headquarters in Malmö, Sweden, AAK has 20 production facilities and customization plants, sales offices in more than 25 countries and more than 2,900 employees. 

Visit www.betterwithAAK.com for more information.


499 Thornall St., 5th Floor

Edison, NJ 08837

Phone: 973 344 1300