Nancy Stachiw, director of technical service and application, cuts the ribbon to signify the grand opening of the Mexico Regional Application Center.

Less than three months before the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition held July 11-14 in Chicago, ICL Food Specialties, St. Louis, celebrated the opening of its Mexico Regional Application Center in Monterrey. Featuring a test kitchen and laboratory, the company’s growing client list in Mexico has been participating in training seminars and ideation workshops to assist with product development efforts designed to make them more competitive in the Mexican economy, including the export marketplace.

“The space features the latest technology to showcase solutions and new ideas for bakery, dairy, beverage and meat applications,” said Bertha Zertuche, food application scientist, who worked with Vince Machen, facilities coordinator, to design the Mexico facility, from strategic research to equipment and fixture selection. “We are now able to work alongside customers to conduct trials and product development, which instills a greater opportunity for commercial success.”

Nancy Stachiw, director of technical service and application, said, “Raw materials, processing techniques and tastes all differ by geography. Regional application capabilities, such as our new Mexico facility, allow us to commit to serving our global markets in a more efficient way by responding quickly to customer challenges with new product developments.”

ICL Food Specialties’ investment in technology expands beyond the Mexican border. Plant upgrades are in progress in the United States, where the company is doubling the size of its Webster Groves, Mo.-based Technical Application Center. On track for a late 2015 completion, upgrades include an expanded bakery pilot plant, test kitchen, protein synergies lab, sensory evaluation facilities and advanced processing technology.

The expansion is in response to customers’ requests to have a local application research support team to work alongside them for problem solving, training and developing prototypes and formulations, Ms. Stachiw said.

“Additionally, these new resources will enable our scientists to conduct unique texture analysis, functional comparisons and a variety of other performance tests, all which combine to accelerate product development,” she said.

ICL Food Specialties offers a variety of functional ingredients, many of which were showcased in prototypes at this year’s I.F.T. The company’s chefs and scientists worked side-by-side, combining art with science, to create foods that speak to the ever-changing needs of the industry and of consumers’ palate, here and abroad.

“Like artists, our global food experts have created new food ingredient systems that showcase the functionality necessary in today’s culinary-inspired innovations,” said Beth Warren, commercial lead- North America and global marketing communications leader. “Our technologies enable creativity, while still providing the necessary features to improve performance and meet consumer preferences.”

The I.F.T. menu included:

• Savory chicken meatballs featuring Brifisol 550 for enhanced tenderness and juiciness and 20% less fat, Salona Sea Salt for a 15% sodium reduction and Licresse FC for fat oxidation protection. The meatballs were served with Coffee-Q-Sauce, a barbeque sauce with undertones of fresh brewed coffee.

• Soft and chewy pretzel bites served with either harissa yogurt sauce or peppered Asiago Fondue. The pretzel bites provide the same texture, quality and flavor of a yeast-leavened pretzel, but are prepared in 30% less time by using Bekabake PZ, a leavening system that provides volume and texture while giving the pretzel a controlled rise in the oven. The sauce and fondue both contained reduced levels of sodium and achieved creamy, smooth textures through the use of either Bekaplus DP 200 or Joha B50 emulsifying and stabilizing systems.

• A toffee caramel delight high-protein beverage relied on Bekaplus BP1210 and Joha B50 for optimum protection of dairy proteins during heat processing and storage. Made from 2% milk, this creamy beverage has 30 grams of protein per 12-oz serving.