R&D focus for Avebe as new centre unveiled

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Potato, Starch, Avebe

Competing with cheaper corn and wheat alternatives, potato starch
firm Avebe unveils a new research and development centre to bring
the Dutch company closer to its customer needs.

The Veendam-based facility constructed for an undisclosed cost and opened in October, is the latest development in a string of structural changes that the 5,000 farmer-owned co-operative has undergone in recent months to improve its competitiveness.

"We must drive into the functionality of our potato starches to give our customers the solutions they're looking for,"​ a spokesperson for Avebe commented to FoodNavigator.com.

Potato starches, used in a range of applications from soups to desserts, are more expensive than their wheat or corn counterparts which means, working in an intensely price-driven segment, the co-operative is driven to gain market share through innovation and development work.

The firm - that slashed some 450 jobs in 2002 and shrugged off its Glucona subsidiary to Purac as part of a restructuring programme - produces 800,000 tonnes of starch annually from four million tonnes of potatoes.

"It is expected that consolidation of Avebe's Foxhol (The Netherlands) and Malmö (Sweden) application research facilities into Veendam will provide the critical mass necessary to address increasingly complex, technical needs of its customers in use of potato and tapioca starches in food systems,"​ said the company that supplies native and modified potato starches, as well as tapioca based products.

The new centre has been organised into two application groups: snacks and liquid and powdered foods and will house Avebe's various technology teams, associated laboratories and pilot scale equipment.

"In the past, we supported our customers through satellite laboratories with accompanying inefficiencies due to distance. The Veendam centre will deliver more value to our customers through use of shared competencies - technology, starch knowledge and pilot scale facilities,"​ added Dr. Piet Buwalda, manager of the innovation centre.

The starch group, that has European potato processing plants in Germany, France, the Netherlands, said recently that due to a 'reasonably favourable growing season and the stable European starch potato acreage' it expects a normal harvest in Europe this year.

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