How ICL partnered with a client to formulate a consistent cheese sauce

Natural cheese is a staple of many sauces for macaroni and cheese, dips and fillings, but can often prove challenging to make consistent in terms of texture. When an ICL Food Specialties customer asked for help fixing quality issues and inefficiencies associated with multiple cheese sauce products, we sprang into action to formulate a solution.

Side-by-side with our client’s chefs, product development and manufacturing teams, we began work at the state-of-the-art ICL Food Specialties dairy applications lab in St. Louis, Missouri. There, the 18-month reformulation process began with ideation and a detailed discussion and analysis of their products and processes.

“Once in the lab, there was no longer a ‘client team’ and an ‘ICL team,’” recalls Marty Brouillette, ICL Sales Account Manager. “We were one team of experts, working together to find a solution.”

And then the hands-on work began: We adjusted process timing, added emulsifying salts and complementary ingredients, tested various production equipment, performed freeze tests and much more. After countless prototypes were created, analyzed and tasted, we recommended several natural cheese-based formulations that were consistent and predictable in delivering an improved final cheese sauce that was more efficient to produce.

The story doesn’t end there, and neither does the ICL Food Specialties-client relationship. Change is often accompanied with challenges, and the food industry is no exception. After converting one cheese sauce product to the new formulation and process, the client’s production phase was marred by several challenges related to ingredient mixing and viscosity control. “So it was on to the client’s production plant, where we worked alongside their production team to fine-tune the formulation in process until each hurdle was overturned,” adds Brouillette.

What began as a challenge resulted in a teamwork approach to formulating a delicious, consistent cheese sauce with both labor and cost savings for our customer. The customer was delighted.