AHRENSBURG, GERMANY — Mühlenchemie GmbH, devoted to the practice of flour treatment, is about to start work on a modern technology center for cereal processing.
Stefan Schliesser, Muhlenchemie’s managing director, spoke about the company’s mission.
"As we are celebrating our 80th anniversary this year, we see ourselves as advisors to the milling industry," Schliesser said. "We help millers with their difficult task of reconciling fluctuating flour qualities with the increasing demands of bakers. Our work centers on tailor-made strategies for achieving uniform flour quality. Every day we are confronted with new flour and baking problems from some corner of the world. The only way to offer quick, pragmatic solutions is with a sophisticated Research and Development department that is also capable of maintaining international contacts with scientific institutions and industry."
Mühlenchemie supplies a whole range of flour improvers from ascorbic acid, bleaching agents and emulsifiers to thickeners and vitamin premixes.
"The focus is definitely on our enzyme technology," said sales manager Lennart Kutschinski. "For example, our R&D department under our head enzymologist Dr. Lutz Popper has set worldwide standards with the bromate substitute AlphaMalt BX." Mühlenchemie marketed the first enzyme preparations under the name AlphaMalt 80 years ago, the company said, noting that it marked the beginning of a unique development in the field of specific flour improvers.
"Enzymes are extremely important as active substances in nature," Schliesser said. "Without enzymes, modern flour treatment is inconceivable. They improve the stability of the dough and the shelf life of the products, as well as fermentation and baked volume. And these modern enzyme systems make it possible to replace formulations containing emulsifiers completely, or at least partly, with interesting economic benefits."
If a miller has problems with flour quality, Mühlenchemie always recommends sending in a large sample of untreated flour, which will undergo comprehensive analysis, rheological tests and multiple bake tests.
"We try to take the special features of regional products into account, and we have developed a variable program for adjusting the baking processes to these features," Kutschinski said. "For example, intensive kneading in mixers requires quite different flour treatment from kneading of the dough by hand, which is still often done in some parts of the world."
One recurring problem Mühlenchemie faces is finding a replace-ment for potassium bromate. "Fortunately we have been able to develop our bromate substitute AlphaMalt BX," said Schliesser. "We had to initiate some thinking away from bromate, which is very cheap and easy to use but risky and damaging to health, to more complex enzyme systems."
Mühlenchemie exports to more than 100 countries. "Every country that has at least one mill is important to us, because we are partners of the milling industry," Kutschinski said. "We keep in contact with the head miller through our customer magazine, Best Flour, and visits to the facility."
In Wittenburg, the company’s modern compounding plant consists of three independent, fully automatic production lines with a total capacity of 35,000 tonnes a year. The plant is designed for a high degree of flexibility so that Mühlenchemie can make even small batches quickly and reliably to solve individual customers’ problems.
At the new technology center, individual baking training for millers and bakers is one of its most important goals, Schliesser said. Training concentrates on the use of additives and their effect on rheology
and baking techniques. Working together with the raw materials generates a lot of information and suggestions for both sides, he explained.
Looking toward the future, Schliesser noted the phenomenon of increased grain in countries that do not typically export wheat. Examples are India and Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Poland. "This grain is pushing its way into the export market and being used more and more widely because of the lower price," he said. "The immediate benefit is the lower cost of the wheat mixture. But that results in new challenges to flour treatment, since the gluten properties of the wheat from these countries are often unfamiliar and require totally new treatment programs."
The company is also experienced with vitamin enrichment to flour. "We have found that vitamin premixes, especially, show great differences in granulation and stability," Kutschinski said. "It is essential to formulate premixes accurately to the gram and most of all to ensure very fine, homogeneous distribution. We use very special process technology to produce highly stable vitamin compounds."
"Our commitment to the milling industry is deeply rooted on all levels," Schliesser said. "Dr. Lutz Popper, together with other experts from America, Africa, Europe and Asia, has taken on the Herculean task of compiling a "practical compendium" for millers. Millers will find a great many suggestions for their day-to-day work. The title will be "Future of Flours," and we are hoping to publish the book at the beginning of next year."