The S$10mn (US$7.34mn) facility is dubbed the Novel IDEAS Centre. It is the company’s first foray into a complete R&D and applications testing hub outside of Indonesia, where a lot of its raw material is from - although its headquarters are located in Singapore.
Even though Musim Mas is best-known for more upstream activities such as sustainability initiatives and as a supplier, many of the product concepts this centre looks at are more downstream-focused and directly applicable to food manufacturers.
“One example of we have innovated is in chocolate, where we have found a way to delay chocolate bloom (the white spots that tend to appear on the surface) by using sorbitan tristearate – this adds value to the product by lengthening shelf life and preserving its quality,” Head of Functional Products and Novel IDEAS Center Sam Appalasami told FoodNaviagtor-Asia during the launch.
“Another example is in dairy, where we’ve done some work to reduce ice crystals and prevent heat shock in ice cream, as well as used Medium Chain Trigylecerides (MCT) oil and a coconut flavour to formulate a soft serve ice cream – There is some evidence to suggest that MCT oil may retard the progress of Alzheimer’s Disease, so this ice cream both tastes good and is good.”
Moving forward, there are plans to look at even healthier concepts, following on the rising health and wellness trends both in the region and globally.
“The next healthy concept possible for ice cream could be a calorie-free, sugar-free ice cream – using something like xylitol for example, which is zero-calorie and could again add value to the product,” he said.
“Plant-based dairy alternatives could also be on the radar – in China, milks from almond and soy are very popular, and we could look at a functional blend (including emulsifiers from palm oil, natural stabilisers, and so on) that can be used in these to get the right viscosity and sedimentation.”
More on the Novel IDEAS Centre
The centre comprises of three application labs (Confectionary, Bakery and Asian Food, and Dairy and Frozen Desserts) in addition to an Analytical Lab for data analysis and a Sensory Room to test products according to different senses including sight, smell, taste and touch.
“We selected Singapore to open this international facility because it is very pro-business, many of our food manufacturing partners are here, there is strong logistics support and access to good food technology and talent,” said Appalasami.
“The focus is to develop new solutions for using palm-oil based functional blends and fats [to] stay ahead of emerging F&B trends and tap into new market opportunities.”
Earlier this year, Musim Mas became the first company in South East Asia to be verified under the Palm Oil Innovation Group standards.
POIG claims to be the ‘most rigorous platform for sustainable palm oil’ globally, and high profile food industry members include Ferrero, Danone and Barry Callebaut.
“POIG’s vision is aligned with our goal to realise a credible palm oil supply chain. We made a commitment to work on our third-party supply base in the long term via the POIG Traders and Processors Charter which is being developed,” said Musim Mas Director Dr Gan Lian Tiong.