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National Starch to Build ‘Texture Center of Excellence’ – Center will Offer New Tools in Understanding and Controlling Texture


National Starch Food Innovation’s multimillion dollar ‘Texture Center of Excellence’ will help the company meet rapidly growing industry needs for texture understanding and control, accelerate innovation and new product development, and improve customers’ efficiencies.

National Starch Food Innovation announced yesterday at the IFT Food Expo that it is building a state-of-the-art Texture Center of Excellence to support the company’s expanding texture efforts.

Scheduled to be operational in 2008, the multimillion dollar Texture Center of Excellence will support National Starch’s programs to meet the growing industry need for texture understanding and control, and will help accelerate innovation and new product development and provide for greater creative collaboration with customers, according to Joseph Light, Senior Director, Customer Solutions and Product Innovation.

“Our research shows that, compared to flavor, texture is clearly an under-exploited dimension in foods. We see tremendous opportunity to work with customers to optimize texture in food systems as a means of creating superior customer satisfaction and competitive advantage. Our goal, as a specialty ingredients company, is to create a unique group of capabilities that coalesce into what we call a ‘Texture Center of Excellence.’ This will be one of the best facilities available anywhere to refine the understanding of how texture is experienced by consumers and transform that understanding into product development action and consumer-winning food formulations,” said Light.

Texture’s growing importance is evidenced by the influx of new products with texture claims. In 2006, 12 percent of new products launched featured texture claims on the front panel, up 50 percent from 2003, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database. In related information, the GNPD cited the importance of starch in many of these products, reporting that nearly 22 percent of all new products launched in 2005 had starch listed as an ingredient.

Specialty starches, one of the most flexible groups of functional ingredients used in foods today, can provide texture properties in nearly all food systems, ranging from low to high moisture foods. Researchers in National’s Texture Center will delve into the understanding of nearly every starch raw material currently available.

“The Texture Center will also support National’s leadership positions in clean label/organic texturizers (NOVATION® functional and organic starches and Homecraft™ flours) and functional fibers and whole grain flours (Hi-maize® 5-in-1 Fiber, NUTRIOSE® soluble fiber and Hi-maize® whole grain),” said Light. “Clean label, fiber enrichment and whole grain are three of the fastest-growing trends in the food industry. We anticipate using our prototyping, consumer testing and pilot plant capabilities to help our customers create, scale up and introduce successful new products at a much faster pace to capitalize on these growing markets.”

The Texture Center of Excellence will be housed at National Starch’s global headquarters in Bridgewater, NJ, and will include a focus group room with observation area, a computerized descriptive analysis room, a culinary kitchen, isolated testing booths, and client meeting rooms. Clients unable to travel to the facility for sensory and/or consumer testing will be able to participate remotely via the Internet. The new facility will also be equipped with specialized instrumentation to conduct texture characterization and accelerate the pace of development.

The Texture Center is one of several substantial investments National Starch has made in recent years to strengthen and expand its consumer understanding, sensory analysis, materials science, formulation, and ingredient development capabilities relating to texture.


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