Vineet Jindal, AAK
Vineet Jindal, Ph.D., has been named global customer innovation manager of plant-based dairy for AAK USA Inc.

EDISON, N.J. — AAK USA Inc. has added five people to its West coast innovation team as the fats and oils company expects to open a West coast innovation center and dairy lab in Richmond, Calif., later this year.

Vineet Jindal, Ph.D., will serve as global customer innovation manager, plant-based dairy. He has 22 years of experience developing plant-based foods, nutraceuticals and special nutrition products for companies such as Nestle S.A., Kraft Foods, Conagra Brands, Subway, Medifast and Boulder Brands. Dr. Jindal received a bachelor of science in food science and nutrition, a master of science in food technology, and a doctorate in microbiology.

Steve Council, AAK
Steve Council, customer innovation manager for AAK

Steve Council has joined AAK as customer innovation manager. He will lead the customer innovation team in Richmond along with James Jones, Ph.D. Mr. Council has 23 years of experience in fats and oils and most recently was innovation manager for IOI Loders Croklaan. He has two patents in selective absorbent technology. Mr. Council received a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from the University of Illinois and a master of science in project management.

Rudy Nava, AAK
Rodolfo “Rudy” Nava, customer innovation senior applications specialist of bakery applications for AAK

Rodolfo “Rudy” Nava has joined AAK as customer innovation senior applications specialist with accountability for the bakery applications lab in Richmond. He has more than 20 years of bakery industry experience in product development, commercialization, technical service and technical sales and has worked for Pillsbury Bakeries & Foodservice, CSM Bakery Products and IOI Loders Croklaan, where he was senior applications bakery specialist. A certified master baker from the Retail Bakers of America, Mr. Nava attended the University of Texas, Johnson & Wales University Culinary Arts, AIB International and the National Baking Center at Dunwoody Institute.

Cecylia Szewczyk, AAK
Cecylia Szewczyk, customer innovation senior applications specialist of dairy for AAK

Cecylia Szewczyk was named customer innovation senior applications specialist — dairy. She will provide dairy technical support to internal and external customers and deliver customer applications solutions in beverages, cheese, whipped toppings, frozen desserts and plant-based dairy. Ms. Szewczyk has 12 years of dairy industry experience and worked in business development, customer support, dairy product/process development and manufacturing. She has worked for CSK Food Enrichment and most recently was research and development manager at Guggisberg Cheese.

Ms. Szewczyk was recognized at the 2015 U.S. Cheese Championship and placed first in the American Cheese Society competition for Swiss style, light cheese and Colby. She received a master of science and engineering in food technology and human nutrition with specialization in food biotechnology from the University of Warmia and Mazury in Poland.

Ben Schwartz, AAK
Benjamin Schwartz, customer innovation application specialist for AAK

Benjamin Schwartz has joined AAK as customer innovation application specialist. He will be based in the personal care lab in the West coast innovation center in Richmond. He will support customer co-development through application process and product development with AAK’s plant-based functional emollients. Mr. Schwartz has more than 12 years of formulation and product development experience and worked for Columbia Cosmetics Manufacturing, Inc., a contract manufacturing company. He received a bachelor of arts degree in biology from the University of Delaware with a double minor in chemistry and philosophy.

“As we prepare to open our new West coast innovation center and global dairy lab in 2018, it was important that we invest in an expanded team of talented and experienced industry experts,” said Terry Thomas, president of Edison-based AAK USA Inc. “This West coast-based team and innovation center will support our co-development process, a huge benefit to our customers. The process allows us to work hand in hand with our customers to deliver the value-adding and forward-thinking innovation to create finished products that consumers will love.”