Suffolk malt firm invests millions of pounds to increase output as demand reaches all-time high
PUBLISHED: 08:04 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:04 24 May 2019
A Suffolk malt firm is set to increase its capacity for making malt extract with a major £4.5m investment as demand for its product rises.
Muntons, based at Stowmarket, has unveiled plans to construct a 27m high building to house a new multi stage evaporator - a piece of plant which it says will help it boost production by around 15%.
Local companies and ones from across Europe will be involved in the construction process, including design and mechanical and electrical engineering.
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The company said that over the past few years demand for malt extract has outstripped supply. Experts at Muntons have been exploring how to get more out of their plant, which has already been working "well beyond" its design capacity, it said, but had been unable to keep up with demand.
The addition of a new, more rapid and more energy efficient evaporator will help to boost production by around 15% by removing production bottle-necks, allowing the firm to process more through their mashing and filtration lines.
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The plan is to use the existing evaporator to process specialist malt extracts such as ultra-dark malt extracts and enzyme-rich diastatic extracts.
Technical and sustainability director Nigel Davies said demand for malted ingredients was at an all-time high.
"It seems that people like malt," he said. The rising demand was "good news" for the company, but also brought its problems, he said, as every tonne of malt extract made is sold as fast as it is produced.
"The steady drift towards natural products away from fats and sugar as people embrace a healthier lifestyle coupled with health awareness and obesity has been brought into sharp focus through a succession of high-profile media exposés," he said. "This has triggered the introduction of traffic lights on packaging, targeted reductions in sugar and fat and has also steered manufacturers towards 'better-for-you' products generally, as consumers seek healthier alternatives."
Malt has no fat, no 'e' numbers and is packed with minerals and nutrients, the firm said, making it a 'desirable' ingredient for the modern health conscious world.
Muntons is looking to recruit five more production operatives in its production area over the course of the next few months as a result of the expansion.
The firm will need to source around 4,000 tonnes more barley to feed the new plant - all sourced from the local area.