MIAMI — Puratos Corp. recently hosted a grand opening of its newest Innovation Center located in the greater Miami area. The company spent six months and invested $1.5 million into transforming a 3,000-square-foot space into a comprehensive pilot plant to better serve the expanding Southeast U.S. region and the company’s Caribbean customers.
“This new facility serves as a footprint for future Innovation Centers in the U.S. and around the world,” said Karel Zimmermann, president and markets director for North America. “We believe it is important to innovate on a local level and adapt technology to local tastes. With this new Innovation Center, we want to inspire our customers with better ideas based on consumer expectations, support them in the development of their products and help them solve technical challenges.”
The company currently has 37 Innovation Centers around the world and six in the United States. In addition to the new Miami location, which opened in May, there are centers in Cherry Hill, N.J., Kenosha, Wis., Rancho Dominguez, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Seattle.
The centers are designed to anticipate and cater to the wide-ranging needs of the company’s many varied customers. The centers provide tools, equipment, research, expertise and training.
“We concentrate on the areas of bakery, patisserie and chocolate making, supporting the creativity of artisans, the production complexity of industrial clients and the particular needs of supermarkets and quick-service restaurants,” said Daniel Malcorps, chief executive officer of Puratos Group. “We are a business-to-business company. Our mission is to help our customers be more successful in their businesses.”
Puratos has its origins in Belgium, where the company maintains global headquarters. Nearly 100 years old, it has 55 factories in 49 countries and employs more than 8,000 worldwide.
“We closed 2016 with €1.7 billion in sales, and our goal is to reach €2 billion by 2018 and €5 billion by 2030,” Mr. Malcorps said. “We invest right back into the company, with 2.5% of total sales going into research and development. We staff more than 850 scientists and technical personnel around the world. Plus, we are aligned with numerous universities worldwide to tap into their expertise.”
Basic research and development takes place in Belgium; however, product development and innovation typically takes place on a local level. That’s because the company has learned through its extensive consumer research that taste and texture preferences are very regional.
“A global artisan bread simply does not exist,” Mr. Malcorps said. “The French baguette in Paris is very different than the baguette you find elsewhere in France. In Belgium, the baguette has an altogether different texture and taste. And the salt content varies in all these places, too.”
This is a reason why the company believes innovation must be conducted on a local level. The company is so committed to local innovation that it will consumer test its customer’s prototypes.
“This is a value-added service Puratos provides,” Mr. Malcorps said. “We help our customers translate trends into new products and then we go out and test those products with real customers.”
Mr. Zimmermann explained that a big challenge in the United States is its varying climates, another reason why local innovation is paramount. He said that about 60% of Puratos’ products can be used nationally while the rest require fine tuning for climate, as well as regional taste and texture preferences.
“There’s excellent baking taking place in the US,” Mr. Zimmermann said. “There’s also so much room for growth through innovation. We believe there’s unlimited opportunity in bakery, patisserie and chocolate making.”For more information, visit www.puratos.us.