Crafting new flavours
Muntons Plc invests heavily in new infrastructure, while remaining fully committed to establishing environmental-friendly practices across the industry
Muntons Plc is flying high. 2017 was a strong business year for the malt and malted ingredients producer, and its Manufacturing and Sustainability Director Nigel Davies was keen to tell FoodChain about the latest developments the company has undergone. “The demand for our products is running at all-time high levels, and we had to uplift our production in order to match that demand,” Nigel starts. “Coupled with this, we expanded our manufacturing operations into Thailand to service that part of the world, which has a particular affinity with malted ingredients in a wide range of products, especially the malted milk drink market.” Locally, Muntons directed its focus to support the ever-growing craft beer industry in the UK. “Some 2000 craft brewers are said to be operating in the country, and they need malt provided in sacks and crushed if they do not have mills,” he explains.
The food sector did not lag behind, either. Nigel praises the work Muntons’ Centre for Excellence is doing: “Our team is very successful in showing potential customers an impressive array of applications, where malted ingredients deliver product and cost saving benefits, that even they had not anticipated.” The new MaltiCrunch Chocolate ingredient, which was announced by the company in November 2017, seems to bring this point home. It is readily soluble and can be blended in water or milk to produce sweet tasting chocolate malt beverages. The ingredient can be used in a wide range of applications, including sweet spreads, dairy and ice cream, instant beverages, snacks, cereal bars, and chocolate confectionery.
The past year was also marked by substantial infrastructural investment at Muntons. Nigel draws our attention to the significance of the decision the company took to install new colour sorting equipment, to remove ergot from barley samples: “Ergot is a result of black grass growing along with the barley in the field on which ergots are produced. These are not permitted in foods, because they are toxic. Hence, we have previously rejected barley containing ergot and sent it off site for cleaning. Installing our own colour sorter, which removes 100 per cent of all ergot, has saved us extra transportation mileage, equivalent to nine people driving their cars for an entire year. It is a big success in terms of food safety and sustainability.”
It is no coincidence that Nigel is so enthusiastic about the positive effects certain measures taken by the company have on the environment. Muntons has a long story of promoting sustainability and corporate responsibility, and its latest actions do not stray from this trend. “We are the first maltster to set a science-based target for greenhouse gas emissions. This is important because the targets the Government has set are insufficient to mitigate the impact on climate change,” he says.
“Muntons has also gained considerable benefits for its farm suppliers through the ‘Sustainable Futures’ farmer support group, based in Yorkshire. Over 100 farmers meet regularly to share best environmental practices, learn from each other, and reduce their input costs. This aligns very well with the newly-proposed UK farming incentive schemes, which will replace existing agricultural support with a scheme that favours those who improve the environment, rather than just providing financial support,” he continues.
Nigel describes the present time as a period of investment Muntons has not seen before. “This involves upgrading malting plant, installing new boilers that reduce our emissions in line with science-based targets that align with climate change protection, expanding the production capacity, and introducing new process streams to service our expanding market share.”
The improvement of its onsite facilities has been just one side of the internal development the company was subject to in 2017. Muntons experienced a change in the management hierarchy too, as Mark Tyldesley was appointed Managing Director. Nigel discusses the move: “Mark’s background is closer to the retail sector than we normally operate, and as such, he brings a different view of what is interesting and exciting to those markets. He is keen to fast-track our capital programme to deliver an even better performance than our current record success. He is also a strong advocate of diversity and innovation.”
Nigel speaks confidently of Muntons’ plan for 2018: “We have a lot of exciting projects happening at the same time, all of which have a strong sales demand, so our customers are already lining up for products from plant we are yet to construct. One such project is the building of a malt peating plant in Yorkshire, because we have noticed a strong demand from distillers as whisky sales stay high. The plant will service this market and the emerging craft businesses, which we anticipate to rise, especially in the US.”
Finally, he touches upon Muntons’ position in the global market, and the general outlook in front of the company: “Since we have a particularly strong demand from Asia and the US, and direct European trade forms only a small part of our sales, we should be able to withstand any potential negative impact of Brexit. We are planning to keep on investing, and our focus will be on securing growth in the markets we know.”