Glenn De Ceulaer, CLS Associate at Kemin Food Technologies in Herentals, is 4 years at the company and worked with NaturCEASE™ Dry since its inception. Now that the product is launched, how does he look back? We sat down with Glenn to talk about his story at Kemin.
How did you get in touch with Kemin?
I have a Master in Bio Sciences and always had a predilection for food products and the science surrounding food. I graduated in 2015 and not much later Kemin offered me a job. The job description really appealed to me, so long story short; four years later, I’m still here.
And the job Kemin offered you was at the Customer Laboratory Services (CLS) department.
Correct. Basically, it means that a customer has a challenge or wants to increase the shelf life of a food product. Subsequently, we look for a solution in our lab. But it speaks for itself that, the customer wants to select the most efficacious solution for their specific matrix. It’s a process of testing and analysing numerous samples and their effects under different circumstances. Our CLS department allows us to offer tailor-made solutions for each matrix and this service is much appreciated by our customers. Next to CLS, I also work actively with the R&D Department, here at Kemin Food Technologies, where I help develop new products, for example NaturCEASE Dry.
It sounds like you have a rather wide range of duties.
You might say that. (laughs) But that’s what keeps things interesting. Of course, it’s not always researching or analysing samples in a lab environment. Sometimes I need to write reports or protocols as well. It’s an important part of my work and I love all the different aspects of my job. No two days are the same.
You work for KFTEMEA, meaning Europe, Middle East and Africa. How do you adapt to those different food markets?
It certainly is a vast region and obviously each part has its own challenges. So this requires a different approach each time; sometimes food manufacturers in certain regions use synthetic ingredients that they aim to substitute. That’s why our CLS Department offers counsel to each customer individually.
Could you tell us more about your role in the development of NaturCEASE Dry?
You could say that I played an important role. Kemin offers solutions for shelf life, preserving taste and colour, and delaying oxidation processes. We also have food safety solutions in our portfolio. With NaturCEASE Dry, we wanted to combine all those features into one user-friendly product. I can say that the development of NaturCEASE Dry was challenging seeing the fact that I had to take different parameters into account to protect the full meat matrix.
How did it go on from there?
First you look at the three most important parameters that influence the quality of meat; microbiological growth, colour, and the lipid oxidation. In order to tackle those challenges we searched for the perfect ratio meat versus blend and this stage alone requires a lot of attention. You study whether the product remains stable throughout the shelf life, … It’s not just mixing substances together. (laughs)
Supposedly some challenges will occur during such a profound study.
First of all, it’s important to find the most cost efficient blend. In that regard, we look at what’s the ideal dosage in order to create the best one stop solution. Depending what specific application NaturCEASE Dry is used for -each food source has its own challenges- different quantities may be needed. Getting that right is probably the biggest challenge.
In what kind of application NaturCEASE Dry can be used?
It mainly is an all in one shelf life and food safety solution for meat products, but theoretically it might also work in other foods. But since NaturCEASE Dry is specifically designed for meat, we’re talking about burgers, sausages, ground beef, or processed meats in general.
Once you have figured out the science, when do you know that your work is done?
It’s important to have sufficient data proving that NaturCEASE Dry works. So, we generate evidence about its stability and whether the quality is guaranteed within the shelf life. Only when these steps are successful, we can finalise the product development. And knowing that the shelf life study itself takes up a year to complete, and the development, before we get everything right, we’re talking about another year easily.
Now NaturCEASE Dry has been finalised and has been launched last year. How do you look back?
I’m very satisfied with the fact that NaturCEASE Dry is an effective all in one solution as the customers are looking for. And I honestly believe that it is a great product. My research was definitely useful, and that’s gratifying. Testing on the scale of a lab is not always a guarantee that everything works out for any business. In that regard, the biggest reward is when customers react positively and really start buying the product.
After having developed such a product, how much more do you see shelf life solutions evolve in the future?
For sure the future will evolve with new technologies, packaging solutions and ingredients. Kemin Is always looking ahead to new molecules and innovations. I am sure in the future we will have more solutions to cover the needs of our customers.
We always keep an eye on new trends In the industry and will start new development projects when the time is right.
Yet, science is always changing.
Absolutely. That’s why we attend seminars, conferences and conventions, participate in webinars, read articles on the latest findings and so on. A lot of times new information is shared and we also distribute or discuss this among us, here at Kemin. Learning is a continuous process in this profession, for sure.
And working at Kemin for four years, did your view on the food industry change?
Well, I never knew such a business existed in the segment of natural food safety and shelf life solutions. And I never thought to get in touch with active plant molecules again, like in school. But now I am almost working daily with plant extracts.
And how do you look to the future personally?
More of the same, I guess. I really enjoy working here. In the end, I think we are doing a great job here; we naturally increase the shelf life of food. If you think about it, we’re helping the planet sustainably and it also benefits health in general. So, it’s really satisfying to be a part of this, and I fully support the story and vision of Kemin. Personally, I will continue my work as I do and seek for opportunities to learn and improve. And hopefully I can help develop other innovative products like NaturCEASE Dry.