In response to this, the company has invested over $15m ($16.96m) in a drying plant, with a vacuum belt dryer designed and built by drying technology expert Bucher Unipektin.
MPC has grown from a regional supplier of malts to an international company offering a full line of natural sweeteners for the bakery, snack foods, cereals, confectionary and beverage industries.
The dryer is the culmination of a five-year, $50m ($56,56m) investment, beginning in 2015 with the expansion of its brew house, Meura mash-filter, expanded laboratory, R&D and customer application capabilities.
“The drying plant will continue our commitment to supply natural sweeteners, which are minimally processed and environmentally sustainable,” said Amy Targan, president, MPC.
MPC chose the vacuum belt dryer over a spray dryer because of its ability to produce free-flowing particulates of viscous sugar syrups, as well as retain flavor, aroma and color.
The 58-foot-long machine has completed installation and validation, and is installed at the company’s Dayton, Ohio, US, manufacturing facility.
Essential amino acids
Vacuum belt dryers operate by reducing the pressure in the chamber and moisture is evaporated from the product at lower temperatures. This eliminates oxidation and prevents damage to the syrup.
Important to the drying of malted barley extract, vacuum belt drying uses a gentler process that protects unique-to-product characteristics not found in other sweeteners, including antioxidants, essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
Vacuum belt drying also helps avoid burnt notes or other off-flavors and aromas typical with spray drying, and better controls the maillard reaction for a more consistent final product color.
Vacuum belt drying produces a powder that is highly soluble in cold liquids, making it preferable for malt beverages.
The enhanced technology will allow MPC to manufacture products such as honey, agave and molasses that are difficult or impossible to dry on a spray dryer without additives.
Targan noted there has been a growing and renewed interest in MPC’s malted barley extract because of its unique flavor profile and recognition of its health-related benefits in the field of probiotics, plant-derived proteins, sports recovery and antioxidants.
MPC's malted barley extract is a multi-functional ingredient that acts as a natural humectant (moisture absorber), and enhances browning, fermentation, body and viscosity.
Founded in 1957 and headquartered in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, MPC also supplies healthy, natural sweeteners including molasses, oat extract, rice syrup, tapioca syrup, agave and honey.