Editor’s Note: For more than half a century, Fuchs North America (formerly Baltimore Spice) operated in Owings Mills, Md. Despite several major expansions in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, the company had outgrown the facility, with little ability to expand on the remaining grounds. The company purchased a 21-acre campus in nearby Hampstead and broke ground in 2015 for a 210,000-square-foot facility. This past summer brought a grand opening at that new site, which doubled the company’s manufacturing capacity.
Equally important, the new headquarters includes a number of enhanced product development functions and capabilities, starting with expanded R&D test lab facilities encompassing a microbiology lab, a quality assurance lab, plus an entirely new sensory lab along with a spacious new state-of-the-art presentation kitchen.
Fuchs develops custom seasoning solutions for a wide range of food and beverage applications. Snack seasonings have been a significant area of focus but Fuchs’ seasonings also are used in meat, sauce, dairy and bakery applications. The company also serves restaurant operators.
Prepared Foods talks to Elizabeth Lindemer, CEC, Fuchs’ corporate executive chef, about the new R&D and culinary facilities.
Prepared Foods: What’s it like to be working in Fuchs’ new facility?
Elizabeth Lindemer: You know what they say about time flying! It’s hard to believe that we’ve already been at our new facility for a little more than a year. The moving process began in early November 2016 and was completed in 2017. It was a necessary change in order for us to continue expanding.
Our company had been headquartered at its previous facility for more than 50 years, and we had maxed out our capacity. It was time for a new space and new equipment to accommodate for growth. Our new facility features state-of-the-art equipment and substantially increases our capacity. It positions us for continued growth for many years to come!
PF: What would say, in particular, about shifting into a new R&D and culinary space?
Lindemer: It had been quite some time since the R&D lab at our old facility had been updated, and it was due for a total revamp. Not only was the lab outdated but, as our team grew, our area became tight for space and storage.
The old lab also did not feature dedicated space just for culinary projects, and there wasn’t much space for hands-on work with our customers. Our new facility has remedied all of that—and more!
PF: Were you able to contribute to the new R&D / culinary center design?
Lindemer: Most of the new facility design was completed by the time I came on board in January 2016. However, I did have a bit of input on the design and appearance of our new presentation kitchen. I helped pick out some of the finishing touches.
PF: Please tell us about your new space and the R&D and culinary team there.
Lindemer: Our new R&D lab is at least twice as large as our previous lab, and we now have ample storage for supplies and ingredients. We also have a separate presentation kitchen, which is a dedicated space for working on culinary-focused projects. It also allows us to host our customers and work side-by-side in projects with them. There’s also no shortage of conference rooms to meet with customers and suppliers.
Our R&D team has expanded to 10 team members, and we’re looking to add more in the future. In addition to myself, our team includes food scientists, food technologists, and lab coordinators.
PF: In conjunction with the move, did Fuchs add any new capabilities to your group?
Lindemer: One of the most exciting parts of the facility is our brand new sensory lab. Our previous facilities did not have a dedicated area for sensory evaluation. We’ve already made great use of this area in our new building during the past year.
Our new facility also features more space, better access to ingredients, and a larger sample lab. This promotes more efficiency and speed when sending sample products to our customers. The lab and kitchen feature brand new state-of-the-art equipment, as well as televisions that allow for demos and presentations. We also have been utilizing this space to take our own in-house photography and film recipe “vlogs.”
PF: Can you share an example of working in the new space with a customer—and truly experiencing the difference?
Lindemer: In the past year, we’ve had quite a few customers come by to check out our new facilities and work on projects side-by-side with us in the lab.
Just a few weeks ago, I worked with a customer in our presentation kitchen to developing seasonings for potato side dishes. We worked together, turned around some flavor revisions very quickly and then nailed down the exact flavor profile they desired for their product. We can achieve much more in a short amount of time when we’re working hands-on in the lab with our customer.
Although we were able to work with customers in our old facility, space always had been an issue to some extent. Our new R&D and culinary center affords the space we need to have our customers come in to work with us hands-on—all quite comfortably and efficiently. Plus, we’re always happy to show off our new facility!
PF: Will your R&D and culinary center resources help you grow in other new food application areas?
Lindemer: With our new lab and presentation kitchen, we have increased our culinary capabilities. This enables us to expand further into foodservice as well as marinades for proteins.
Speaking more broadly, I believe that the new facility—paired with our consumer trend insights—allows us to work more closely with customers to develop innovative flavors, the kinds that consumers will love to pass around.