Joint pioneering to develop innovative conceptsPublished: 12-11-2015, | Member: Ruitenberg Ingredients
Sausage casings based on alginates, bread dough for co-extrusion processes and special liquorice extracts are just a few of Ruitenberg Ingredients’ most recent innovations. Collaborating with suppliers, customers and knowledge institutions, this family business in the Dutch town of Twello develops new concepts and applications with ingredients for the bakery, meat and confectionary industries.
“Creating innovative solutions for the food industry has been our specialty for decades,” says Elsowina Ruitenberg, family ambassador for the family. “My grandfather started the business in 1938 as a trading house in potato starch. Later, my father started experimenting in the attic of the old villa that served as the Ruitenberg office. And in the 1970s this developed into a professional lab in Amersfoort. In 2003, we moved to this very modern facility in Twello.”
An external executive director now leads the company, but the family still holds all shares and is deeply involved in the day-to-day business. The facilities in Twello are divided into three technology centers that develop snacks, convenience, meat and liquorice products.
R&D manager Marian Verbruggen says the company is known for its pioneering spirit. “We spend of lot of time trying new things. That’s challenging and creative work. Everyone in this company is excited and motivated to work on new solutions. It’s not a solo effort though. We often work with various external parties, suppliers, customers and knowledge institutions. That allows us to do more than just develop tailor-made solutions for our customers. Together we can develop and market totally new products too.”
Ruitenberg Ingredients has a series of innovations to its name. One of the most recent is ‘RudinVegaCasing’, a ready-to-use, seaweed-based (alginate) paste that forms an edible casing around sausage meat. The sausage is produced by means of co-extrusion. This solution was developed around the year 2000, during the Mad Cow Disease crisis, when an alternative for collagen casings was needed. VegaCasing is suitable for every type of sausage and can be declared both halal and kosher. The latest VegaCasing is also ‘skinless’, meaning it adheres to sausage meat so well that it more or less disappears.
Another recent innovation is ‘RudinBreadCasing’, a dough variety as casing. The same co-extrusion technology is used to create a special yeast-free layer of bread dough around a meat-based or other filling. This enables the fully automated production of sausage rolls in meat processing plants, allowing meat processing companies to expand their product portfolio and put excess capacity to good use.
Another Ruitenberg Ingredients’ innovation is liquid smoke, used to give meat and cheese a smokey flavor without the need for a wood oven. Color and taste can be tailored to the customers’ demands. The company developed an extra dark smoke extract for the Eastern European market, for example.
“We like to pioneer at Ruitenberg. That’s why we attend meetings like Food Valley NL’s recent ‘Eiwit krijgt kleur’ [Putting green protein on the map]”, says Verbruggen. “Those meetings keep us informed about future trends. Right now, we’re not really marketing anything related to alternative proteins, but I can’t rule it out for the future.”
One idea that Ruitenberg is currently exploring is extracting antimicrobial fractions from liquorice roots, a waste stream from the production of liquorice candy. “We’re researching the feasibility of such an extract and its possible applications in conjunction with Wageningen UR. It’s an exciting project. Food Valley NL helped make it possible by aiding us in applying for an innovation voucher from the Province of Gelderland, which we were awarded.”
“Our company doesn’t have pigeonholes,” says Verbruggen. “We’re very quick to pick up on market developments because our application technologists are always out and about and visiting manufacturers. Our product developers and technologists take what they hear from these application technologists and get to work on it. We love special requests, and seldom turn one down,” she says.