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Interview with AAK

Source:Food Bev Asia

Date Published:12/26/2018 10:12:31 AM

With its special nutrition, filling fats and foodservice portfolios, AAK is committed to expanding Southeast Asian presence says regional sales manager, Jeff Soo.   

GLOBAL specialty vegetable oils and fats supplier AAK stays ahead of the fast-paced food market not only through innovative products but also through close collaborations with customers that enable the company to provide holistic solutions. With its development and innovation teams across the world also experts in the applications markets for the company’s different products, AAK meets customers’ ingredients requirements whilst also addressing issues pertaining to production efficiency and costs, sustainability and other trends.

Regional sales manager Jeff Soo said that when the company sells fats, it is not only about the fats but the whole process. “By selling a new fat, we open up the opportunity for a customer to maybe reduce use of a certain ingredient, tweak production parameters, cut production time, increase product shelf life or lower the cost. This is how we bring value to our customers.”

Sustainability is one issue AAK believes to be crucial to staying relevant in the industry. The company ensures its supply chain adheres to sustainability standards. “Part of serving the market is knowing who the customers are. Millennials, which form a big group of consumers nowadays, are very vocal about environmental issues. They want to know the source of the product, the ingredients used and all these things, especially with all the food scandals happening now,” said Mr. Soo.

Jeff Soo, AAK regional sales manager

Special nutrition, filling fats, foodservice growth areas

Of AAK’s wide product and applications range, special nutrition, filling fats and foodservice took the spotlight at the company’s booth at the recent Fi Asia 2018 held in Indonesia.

AAK’s special nutrition product range covers dietary solutions, beneficial oils and fat supplements designed to improve nutritional intake and overall health. AAK creates solutions specifically for infant, medical and senior nutrition.

“One growing trend is adding functioning ingredients in foods, and not just baby nor medical foods but also in a lot of everyday consumer foods such as bakery products, milk and even chocolates,” he said.

For its special filling fats, AAK highlights different functionalities to address diverse customer needs. Its DELIAIR™ range of confectionery filling fat, for example, features good melting attributes and crunchy textures. The non-hydrogenated filling fat stabilises air bubbles during whipping and reduces overall fat content, thus helping improve the nutritional value of the food without increasing costs.

“What’s special about the DELIAIR™ is that it incorporates air into the filling so you get a lighter mouthfeel. The food melts faster and has a lighter feel for better indulgence.” 

The DELIAIR™ NH 50, which is based on non-lauric vegetable fats, lets food manufacturers create light products with good melting characteristics and lower overall fat content. It can be used in mousse and water-based fillings, crunchy fillings with cereals and dried fruits, and fillings containing cocoa, mass and cocoa butter.

Mr. Soo noted that one trend in confectionery fats is to incorporate more air into the filling to ensure good melting and indulgence whilst cutting calorie content. The CHOCOFILL™ NH 18 is another non-hydrogenated fat ideal for fillings and specifically designed to deliver optimum melting at very good price points.

The CHOCOFILL™ BR boasts bloom-retarding capability to extend product shelf life. “It prevents migration of the fat in the filling to the surface, inhibiting blooming, which is actually crystallised fats. This then helps prolong the shelf life of the product whilst ensuring good product appearance and of course saleability,” he said. 

The CHOCOFILL™ BR can be used in pralines, filled bars, fillings with high nut content, and biscuit and soft fillings. 

For foodservice applications, AAK offers solutions for food manufacturers and retail. The company’s speciality cooking oil range comprises classic products such as rapeseed and sunflower oils to oils infused with basil, lemon, garlic or chili.

“We also offer specific flavours or specialty oils designed to elevate certain cuisines. Our Oriental Flame, for instance, is ideal for Chinese dishes,” Soo added.

Keeping up with fast-growing Asian market

AAK has been in the past several years expanding its supply chain and offices in the region. In 2017, it opened a new innovation centre in Singapore, specifically built for the Asian market.

Soo said the centre is designed to support the needs and requirements of AAK’s customers in the region, in particular Southeast Asia. “So what do we do in these application centres? With the facilities and capabilities incorporated in these centres, we are able to work much better with our customers in helping them come up with prototypes to bring their product to market faster,” he added.

The new state-of-the-art Customer Innovation Centre in Singapore is one of many AAK centres around the world used by the company to work with customers in creating value-adding solutions. The Singapore centre will concentrate on applications for AAK’s chocolate and confectionery fats, bakery, ice cream and dairy, and special nutrition segments. 

Earlier this year, AAK had a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony for another facility focused on the Asian market. This new plant, which will be located in the Philippines, is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2019 and will help AAK further strengthen its presence in the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia.

The new plant, the first of its kind in the Philippines, will sit on 3,000 square meters of land in Batangas in Luzon. It will focus on modifying and blending oils and fats into ingredients for use in dairy, infant nutrition, and chocolate and confectionery fats. The first phase of the project will focus on the Philippine food industry whilst the second phase will include the construction of a bigger factory next to the plant to cater to export services.

“All these investments reflect our strong commitment to growing our presence in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia. Besides, a lot of the raw materials that we use are in this region, so it only makes sense to be closer to our sources,” he shared.  

With its fast-growing food industry, Southeast Asia remains a very important market for AAK. “We have been in this market for the past decade and we are happy to be making great inroads.” Mr. Soo also noted that more customers are beginning to see the value in AAK’s multi-oil platform and multi-process system, particularly in customising solutions and ingredients.

“A lot of the manufacturers in the region are palm-based players, something that limits their capability to provide solutions for diverse customer needs. AAK has different types of oils and has access to different types of quality oils around the world. These and the capability of our factories to carry our multiple processes and applications are what we bring to the table,” said Mr.  Soo.

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AAK nurtures foodservice line with product range

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