UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — Bühler has opened a new food innovation hub in Uzwil, Switzerland, bringing together a range of capabilities into one location.

Four Application and Training Centers — Flavor Creation Center, Food Creation Center, Protein Application Center and Energy Recovery Center — are opening to customers and will complement the company’s existing centers.

“In this world where requirements are changing so fast, customers need flexibility and creativity to adapt their products addressing key issues such as sustainability, the use of local raw materials, healthy diets, and affordability,” said Johannes Wick, chief executive officer of Grains & Food at Bühler Group. “With the completion of the new Application and Training Centers we are able to cover the entire scope of production, from different raw materials to multiple types of finished products. We can offer our customers enormous flexibility and the options they need to disrupt their markets.”

Bühler has Application and Training Centers in 23 locations around the world — some of which cover multiple industrial applications.

With the opening of the new Flavor Creation Center, Food Creation Center, Protein Application Center, and Energy Recovery Center, together with the Application and Training Centers already in operation in Uzwil, the site has become a one-stop shop for Bühler’s customers worldwide, the company said.

“The opening of the Application and Training Centers is a milestone in our journey to support our customers and partners, to create a more sustainable food system,” said Ian Roberts, chief technology officer at Bühler Group. “At the new ATCs customers have access to a unique combination of technology and expertise.”

The new Protein Application Center provides field to ingredient and consumer product process solutions under one roof, Bühler said. The center will enable the buildup of know-how and foster the development of processes for the production of plant-based food, including meat substitutes, plant-based drinks and ingredients.

Bühler is operating the center in collaboration with endeco. The facility is equipped with the latest wet isolation and fractionation techniques for separation of protein, starches, and fibers, and will connect the Grain Innovation Center, Extrusion Application Center, Pasta Application Center, Food Creation Center, Flavor Creation Center, and Energy Recovery Center.

The Extrusion Application Center, which runs 80 to 90 trials per year, will link closely into the new Protein Application Center. In this multi-purpose laboratory customers can conduct tests on food and animal feed, test new recipes, product shapes, and textures, Bühler said.    

The Flavor Creation Center, which has been processing coffee since 2013 and cocoa and nuts since 2022, has been upgraded and renovated. It offers product innovation, training, process optimization, raw material analyses and operates in line with Bühler’s Chocolate Application Center, Food Creation Center, and Energy Recovery Center, the company noted.

The Food Creation Center was developed to support customers through the entire innovation and industrialization process for a wide range of products, including snack bars, biscuits, cracker, baked foods or chocolate products.

The centers in Uzwil produce about 550 tonnes of biomass annually, according to Bühler. Bühler and its strategic partner, Vyncke, have built the Energy Recovery Center, which serves as a heating facility for Bühler's headquarters.

The Energy Recovery Center also works as a demonstration and testing platform for customers who want to reduce their CO2 footprint, waste production, and energy costs by using side streams.

“The energy generation from biomass as an integrated part of process solutions for food has not been systematically developed and therefore has an enormously high potential, both from a business and sustainability perspective,” Mr. Wick said. “The Bühler-Vyncke Energy Recovery Center is an important step for us in implementing our sustainability goals and is intended to serve as an example for energy recovery options in food and feed production.”

Bühler said its Milling Solutions unit has begun working with the company’s other business units to build a new Grain Innovation Center (GIC) in Uzwil. The new GIC will allow Bühler and its customers and partners to develop, test, and scale sustainable and efficient solutions for grain and feed processing to improve food and feed solutions, the company said.

The GIC’s focus will be on yield, quality, energy efficiency, and the flexibility of the plants together with nutritious and great tasting recipes based on a broad variety of grains and pulses. The GIC is scheduled to start operations by the end of 2024.

Meanwhile, a new Grain Processing Innovation Center (GPIC) in Kano, Nigeria, is also under construction and should open its doors at the beginning of 2024. The center will be focused on the development of products, recipes, and processes using local grains, such as sorghum, millets, corn (maize), soybeans, beans, and tigernuts, Bühler said.  

“More than the impressive capacities of each new Application and Training Center we have been investing in, these are built to work in an integrated manner, offering a comprehensive process, so that the customers can take the best of it, and achieve tangible and remarkable outcomes,” Mr. Wick said.