“We are investing about £10.5M in the building of a vacuum band dryer that will process liquid malt extract blended with local ingredients, for example, milk from the local region,” marketing manager Andy Janes told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
The end product would be powdered malt, which could be used as an ingredient in a wide variety of different products as, for example, a flavour enhancer, or sold directly to consumers, Janes said. “It gives a much longer shelf-life than liquid product.
“Malted products are in demand out here. In the UK if you ask anybody about malt drinks they will probably point you to the night drinks people have before they go to bed. In Asia, they are something young people drink during the day to give them an energy burst.
“They want it to feel active and invigorate them. Cold malted beverages are one of the target markets out there and our NPD [new product development] team is active in driving different flavours.”
A new company, JJ Muntons (Thailand) had been formed from the partnership with distributor Jebsen & Jessen, Muntons confirmed. The development process in the Far East would lead to the company delivering products it had never made in the UK, expanding its global product portfolio, said Janes.
Muntons would supply the Thai plant with malt extract produced from malted barley at its factory in Stowmarket, Suffolk, said Janes. As a result, the new business would bring benefits to its UK operations, he said.
“We want to see growth in annual throughput from the UK plant of an extra 3,000t. We’ll also be buying 5,000t more barley. In addition, we’ll also be taking on 30 people in Thailand to manufacture and distribute products.”
The factory would boost the company’s output of malt extract by 10%, giving it much better access to countries such as Japan or Malaysia, he added.
The partnership and the deal to acquire the land on which the Thai factory would be built had been signed a few weeks ago, said Janes. “By July 2015 we should see the first band-dried products being produced there.”
He expected the facility to produce 7,000t of powdered malt extract eventually. “We won’t achieve this in year one, but ideally we will as quickly as possible.”
Muntons sold into more than 60 countries, he said. However, regions of particular interest included the US, where a craft brewing boom was fuelling demand.
Half of Muntons’ sales are generated outside the UK, said Janes.