Meet Nina Kuusisto – our multi-talented development assistant

At Bayn, one will find many passionate people with great experience in the food industry. Nina Kuusisto is certainly no exception. As part of the innovation centre in Gävle, she is where exciting things happen. The interaction with the customer, product development, the sensorics, and order and supply chain management. Nina stays along all the way. What a hero!

20 February 2020 •

Our heroes. That is what we call our col­leagues, who work with research and devel­op­ment of our sweet­ened fibres. It is their knowl­edge, expe­ri­ence and dili­gent work that makes Bayn the lead­ing sup­pli­er of sweet­ened fibre. And these peo­ple are the ones that help you choose the right sweet­ened fibre and fine-tune the com­po­si­tion of your appli­ca­tion, or cre­ate your own solu­tion for sug­ar reduc­tion. Although they are heroes, they are rarely seen and heard. We should rem­e­dy that. In a series of arti­cles, you get to meet our heroes.

In Gävle, 17 km north of Stockholm, there was pre­vi­ous­ly exten­sive con­fec­tionery and food pro­duc­tion. Today, many of the busi­ness­es are closed down.

But there is a well-attend­ed busi­ness in the mid­dle of the city - the Bayn inno­va­tion cen­tre. There, Nina Kuusisto, who has a sol­id back­ground in the food indus­try and con­fec­tionery, works after sev­en­teen years of work at Leaf /​ Cloetta in Gävle. When the busi­ness was closed down, she retrained her­self to cook, a dream she had achieved for a long time.

But since two years ago she has been devel­op­ing dif­fer­ent solu­tions for food. As part of Bayn’s research and devel­op­ment team, she is involved in devel­op­ing process­es and prod­ucts for sug­ar reduc­tion, as well as ensur­ing qual­i­ty and ensur­ing that the prod­ucts upon deliv­ery are approved and safe.

And she does one of the best things she knows - test­ing the solu­tions in prac­tice in our test kitchen.

Meet Nina Kuusisto - one of Bayn’s heroes.

What kind of background do you have?

I have worked in both the food indus­try and the restau­rant world. For sev­en­teen years I worked at Leaf /​ Cloetta. First in pro­duc­tion, then in the qual­i­ty depart­ment and the last three years in the inno­va­tion department.

But when the Gävle fac­to­ry closed, I made a com­plete turn­around and retrained myself to cook. It was a big dream, and I had some excit­ing years at Högbo mill hotel. But in 2018, I was attract­ed back to prod­uct devel­op­ment in food.

That’s when you came in contact with Bayn?

Exactly. In fact, it was a for­mer col­league from Leaf /​ Cloetta who advised me on the posi­tion of devel­op­ment assis­tant at Bayn. At that point, she worked as an inno­va­tion man­ag­er here. We had pre­vi­ous­ly worked togeth­er on a major project with ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides when they were approved in the EU. It was a plea­sure to con­tin­ue work­ing with sug­ar reduc­tion again.

In what way do you think sugar reduction is interesting?

I have a great, per­son­al inter­est in what we eat. It is an over­all excit­ing area. Reducing sug­ar, or com­plete­ly remov­ing added sug­ar, is a glob­al con­cern, to say the least.

Every day I see the need for less sug­ar; they talk about it in media, but I also come across it with when meet­ing new peo­ple. There are inter­est and curios­i­ty among peo­ple about what is pos­si­ble, and what can be done.

The inno­va­tion cen­tre here in Gävle is at street lev­el. There are sur­pris­ing­ly many peo­ple from the pub­lic who knock on the door and have ques­tions. We usu­al­ly invite them and they get to taste the prod­ucts we have developed.

It is such a reward­ing feel­ing to be able to offer high-qual­i­ty solu­tions to our cus­tomers, which they can, in turn, offer the consumers.

What is the difference between what you do now and your past experience of sugar reduction?

In my pre­vi­ous work, I worked with sug­ar, ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, but also arti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, such as aspar­tame, ace­sul­fame K. But at Bayn, we work with the over­all solu­tion Eureba, which replaces sug­ar one-on-one. With amaz­ing­ly good results, we can replace sug­ar with fibre and sweet­en­ers in, for exam­ple, pastries.

One of my tasks is to test these appli­ca­tions in the test kitchen. I have cooked both jam and mar­malade, and it is fun to see that it real­ly works to replace such a com­plex ingre­di­ent as sug­ar with Eureba. The result is incredible!

Can you describe your role in the team?

The peo­ple work­ing here have com­ple­men­tary skills and back­grounds, and togeth­er we devel­op solu­tions for our cus­tomers. I feel that my back­ground is right here. On the one hand, I have long expe­ri­ence from the food indus­try in gen­er­al, and on the oth­er hand, my spe­cif­ic expe­ri­ences on devel­op­ment work, leg­is­la­tion and raw mate­r­i­al con­trol are also utilized.

What does an ordinary working day look like?

I take care of the dai­ly oper­a­tions here in Gävle. I take part in var­i­ous projects, rang­ing from inter­nal to exter­nal projects, and assists in devel­op­ment work in prac­ti­cal terms. I check raw mate­ri­als and recipes, make our fin­ished solu­tions, han­dle and send sam­ples and take care of the administration.

What do you do in the test kitchen?

This is where all the fun hap­pens, for exam­ple, bak­ing, mak­ing ice cream and flavour­ing pro­tein prod­ucts. I am inves­ti­gat­ing whether it is pos­si­ble to pro­duce a prod­uct from a tech­ni­cal stand­point and how the raw mate­ri­als work. What is pos­si­ble? Is it go or no go?

I test new raw mate­ri­als, for exam­ple, dif­fer­ent types of fibre and sug­ar alco­hols. That bit is inter­est­ing and I learn some­thing all the time about how these liv­ing ingre­di­ents work and react.

Other prod­uct cat­e­gories we often work with are drinks, jams, sweets and pas­tries. We have many cus­tomers in these areas who want to replace or reduce sugar.

Finally, we exam­ine leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions, as well as assess­ing and cal­cu­lat­ing recipes.

How is the food assessed?

We do a sen­so­ry eval­u­a­tion, which in short means that we use our sens­es to the max­i­mum to eval­u­ate the prod­uct. We are pro­fes­sion­als regard­ing tast­ing with deep knowl­edge of sen­sorics. When we are ready, we send sam­ples to the cus­tomer for feedback.

We always look for­ward to hear­ing what our cus­tomers have to say. If there is improve­ment poten­tial we go back to test­ing and eval­u­at­ing, again and again until we reach a high-qual­i­ty result.

What happens next?

When the cus­tomer is sat­is­fied, we do a test run at the place where the prod­uct is to be man­u­fac­tured. Our main respon­si­bil­i­ty is to find the right appli­ca­tion for the cus­tomer, but we also want to ensure that the solu­tion works in all pos­si­ble aspects and that the end result is good.

Finally, what’s the most fun thing about your job?

Order man­age­ment may not sound so excit­ing, but in my case it real­ly is. It is a won­der­ful feel­ing to also be a part of the final stage as I get to fol­low up when our var­i­ous solu­tions actu­al­ly reach our cus­tomers. The entire chain from devel­op­ment work to sat­is­fied customers.

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