Columns • 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!
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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