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The vegan cheese alternative sample produced in our development kitchen needed to be scaled up to a commercial batch size of 150 kg. We knew that manufacturing would involve several processing stages and we also needed to optimise the formulation, which needed to be free from named allergens and included a mixture of frozen, liquid and powdered ingredients.
The first step focused on moving from bench top to pilot plant. Our Product and Ingredient Innovation team increased the batch size to 12 kg and changed to a Stefan mixer to prepare the product.
We conducted several pilot plant trials and optimised the process to achieve the best results, such as producing a small enough particle size for a smooth mouthfeel and glossy melt. The team also measured key performance parameters, such as temperature, pH and viscosity, to ensure both food safety and quality controls were met.
After each trial, the products were closely monitored and compared to the bench scale original. We found that the pilot scale products had a softer texture and, on further investigation, determined this was due to a slightly higher moisture content. To resolve this issue, we adjusted the formulation and went back to the development kitchen to trial it at bench scale. This resulted in a product that was slightly too firm but when we subsequently transitioned back to pilot plant trials it had the ideal firmness.
We then progressed to factory scale-up trials. This began with our team leading a series of planning meetings to brief the co-manufacturer on the product and design the processing protocol. Key changes at this stage included a further increase in batch size to 75 kg and the use of a steam injection Stefan mixer. The amount of water in the formulation was also reduced to account for the additional moisture added via the steam. Again, we measured the product viscosity, pH and particle size throughout the trials.
Our analysis found that although the moisture content was as expected, the samples were not firm enough to go through the factory’s slicing and grating line. To find out why, we used texture analysis and microscopy techniques to compare the firmness and microstructure of samples produced at all three stages; bench, pilot and factory scale. The results showed a difference in the starch network, which could be responsible for the change in textural and organoleptic properties. This led us to the hypothesis that the factory mixer was exerting a greater force into the product during processing – but we needed to carry out further investigations at bench and pilot scale to put it to the test.
Our bench scale trial involved blending the mix for an extended period, while at pilot scale we used an amp meter to measure the energy drawn by the machine during the different mixing stages. By comparing the results with the factory trial data, we could confirm that the softer product sample was indeed caused by the force exerted by the factory mixer.
Having identified the root cause of the problem, we carried out a further set of factory trials with reduced mixing force. By completing them in increments, we ensured the product particle size and corresponding smoothness had not been compromised by this processing change.
After successfully repeating a series of 75 kg factory trials, we scaled up to 150 kg, the required batch size for manufacturing the product for launch.
The vegan cheese alternative was successfully scaled up and launched into the UK market with minimal rounds of factory trials. Our indicative bench and pilot scale trials significantly reduced cost, timescale and ingredient wastage for our client. The use of analytical tools helped to identify any changes in the product during scale-up enabling quick modification of formulation and process to optimise the final product for launch.
RSSL’s multi-disciplinary technical team meant they were able to identify and resolve issues quickly and efficiently, resulting in a smooth scale-up and successful product launch.”
Vegan cheese developer
Scaling up your product from benchtop to manufacturing is vital: it’s your opportunity to make sure the formulation will thrive in the commercial market. In this critical stage technical expertise is essential. Our team will carry out a series of structured pilot scale and scale-up trials and ensuring your product performs well under defined processing and packaging conditions. Discover how we can support your product's scale-up here.
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