Standing aside the firm's fats packing hall, the custom-designed bakery facility will investigate a wide range of applications, from specialist cakes to crackers, drawing raw materials from the nearby plant, and enjoying easy implementation of the projects onto the production line. "The major push is on the nutritional side - lower fats, lower sats - with pressure on suppliers trickling down from the government and the Food Standards Agency to reduce saturated fats," explains Rob Winwood, business development director at ADM Pura to BakeryandSnacks.com. The relationship between dietary fats and cardiovascular disease (CVD), especially coronary heart disease, has been extensively investigated, with strong and consistent associations emerging from a wide body of evidence suggesting that saturated fatty acids may raise total and 'bad' low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. But balancing the upward pressure on costs for bakers against the drive for new food designs that could slash saturated fats is a major challenge for the baking industry. At the new R&D facility, ADM Pura - part of ADM Oils and Fats - will hone in on the subject, with two evolutionary branches: the development of novels fats that could cut the saturated fats level in baking applications; and an in-depth look at reformulation, and how adapting recipes could reduce the saturated fat levels. "We want to give our customers options, not just a single answer to the saturated fats dilemma," comments Rob Winwood. According to the business development director, an ultra-low reduction of saturated fats in an application - for example, about 20 per cent - would probably involve the use of a different fat stream, and arguably, result in higher costs for the product. But a 10 per cent reduction could be achieved through reformulation, simmering down the costs for the baker. Formulation with 'legs' at the ADM baking facility will also take a closer look at liquid shortenings. "In the fast-moving food processing industry, demand for products that the baker can readily mix in is a constant," says Rob Winwood. Traditionally, bakers use huge blocks of fat - delivered in 10 to 15 kilo blocks - that are relatively time-consuming to mix into the formulation. Liquid shortenings, by contrast, not only reduce the quantity of fat required and consequent ingredient costs, but are also quicker and easier to absorb into the dough recipes. Winwood explains that work on these shortenings 'is still in the early phase, but going forward, they are definitely for the future,' Bakers are always on the hunt for smooth, fine, beta-prime crystals that provide an agreeable mouthfeel to baking applications. According to Winwood, the key challenge in terms of manufacturing is stability in the reformulation, and obtaining the correct crystal types using liquid shortenings. Storage is a further obstacle: the liquid shortening can be stored in its state for about two weeks, before the product solidifies.