Denali Ingredients Inc.
2400 S. Calhoun Road, New Berlin
Industry: Ice cream ingredient manufacturing
“Everyone’s looking for the next cookie dough or cookies and cream,” said Neal Glaeser, president of New Berlin-based Denali Ingredients Inc.
As a full-line ice cream ingredients and inclusions manufacturer serving the ice cream, novelty, fluid dairy, bakery and food service markets, Denali Ingredients could be the one to develop the next big ice cream flavor.
In fact, Denali Ingredients is so dedicated to research and development that it is planning a major expansion that would triple the size of its research and development facility at 2400 S. Calhoun Road in New Berlin to 4,000 square feet.
The expansion, which Glaeser hopes to break ground on in April, would also double the size of the cooler, double the hot processing production center and add 4,000 square feet of office space.
If the estimated $6 million construction project begins in the spring (it is pending city approval), it is expected to be complete by late fall or early winter.
“We like to be a company that our customers come to do research and development for unique concepts and flavors,” said Glaeser about the expanded research and development space.
Research and development is important right now, in a time when the ice cream industry is meeting an array of challenges, he said.
According to Glaeser, national ice cream retail sales have been down or flat for the last four to five years. This is due to a variety of reasons, including a move toward smaller pack sizes as a result of millennials marrying and starting families later.
Additionally, Glaeser believes consumers’ overall eating habits have changed. For instance, he said people have become more conscious of what they are eating and desire natural products.
People still want to eat ice cream, he said, but when they do they want it to be a treat.
“With our customers being ice cream manufacturers, we’re always looking for ways to meet consumer demands, desires and trends,” Glaeser said.
Roughly 80 percent of all packaged ice cream sales are traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate, and the other 20 percent are unique flavors.
“You don’t know when one of those cool, trendy things will become a mainstream item,” Glaeser said, citing the success of cookie dough and cookies and cream, both of which did not exist 30 years ago.
Denali Ingredients, which is a sister company of Wayland, Mich.-based Moose Tracks ice cream flavor developer Denali Flavors Inc., is always working on new concepts. The 80-employee company is currently developing cookie butter variegates and spicy flavors.
In order to achieve these new ideas, Denali Ingredients follows restaurant trends and consults with a local pastry chef.
The company makes 650 different items per year for its approximately 350 customers, most of which are located in North America.
Denali Ingredients manufactures the products in its 80,000-square-foot and 30,000-square-foot plants. (The second plant is located nearby at 3100 S. 166th St.)
The manufacturing facilities house various production areas, including the kettle room where hot processing is done and a coating room.
Operating on a batch system, Denali Ingredients makes each product using the formula specifications it has developed. The ingredients are then tested for color, flavor and viscosity before they are filled into various containers, including 35-pound boxes, 50-pound pails, 300- to 350-pound drums, 2,000-pound totes or 40,000-pound tankers.
Lastly, the ingredients undergo three-day microbiological testing by a third-party company.
Denali Ingredients produced more than 45 million pounds of ingredients last year and is forecasting 47 million pounds this year.