Aston Foods International AG

An interview with Mr. Trübl of Aston Foods International AG

BE
Good morning, Mr. Trübl. For the benefit of those of readers of Baking Europe who might not know very much about Aston Foods International AG, could you tell us a little about the company?

AF
Aston Foods International AG (Aston Foods) is now the full name of company depicting our global market place. Indeed we are looking to position the company as the market leader in vacuum cooling systems to the large-scale industrial and commercial bakery sectors. Boasting Swiss manufacturing quality, Aston Foods is a privately owned company based in Zug, Switzerland so we are ideally placed to supply all of Europe.

BE
Tell us a little about your product developments and the benefits of using this technology.

AF
Our vacuum cooling systems are designed and manufactured in accordance with customers' specific requirements such as production volume, types of trays and baking lines in use.

Aston Foods vacuum cooling systems are designed to reduce the cooling equipment footprint and decrease cooling times significantly where tradition cooling systems are in use (such as spiral cooling). Bakers using traditional cooling methods may have to wait around 90 minutes for products to cool down after being baked before they are ready to be packaged compared to between 70 seconds and 3 minutes using a vacuum cooling process. That's a reduction in cooling time of more than 95%, huge savings in cost and a significant improvement in freshness and shelf-life! More importantly and as a result it has been known for bakers to enjoy an extra two hours in bed.

Return on investment has been known to be from 18 to 30 months from installation.

Aston Foods Way

Figure shows significant time saving of vacuum cooled products against conventional cooling

BE
What are the most recent vacuum cooling technologies that you have been developing?

AF
Our Compact Chamber vacuum baking system is our latest product, which we specifically developed for the needs of SMEs including small bakeries. The Aston Compact Chamber includes all the benefits of our vacuum cooling baking process with the smallest space requirements. For high volume producers we improved our successful Continua vacuum baking system. See picture of this machine on the front cover of this issue.

Chifon Cake

Chifon Cake – left conventionally cooled, right vacuum cooled

The Continua vacuum cooling system as illustrated on the front cover of this issue of your magazine, is built in a modular design and comprises several vacuum chambers arranged horizontally one above the other. Each vacuum chamber is connected directly with a vacuum pump with the loading and unloading being fully automated as an integral part of the system. The basic parameters of the process known from the NEREUS batch chamber remain unchanged – such as pump concept, HMI and control systems. In particular those of our clients who intend to embrace automation and digitalisation, will benefit from this concept. High speed production lines and big volume producers (of up to 10 tons per hour, e.g. toast bread or burger buns) will finally have an economic solution for efficient cooling.

Croissant

Croissant – left conventionally cooled, right vacuum cooled

Gluten-free bread

Gluten-free bread – right conventionally cooled, left vacuum cooled

BE
And I understand that you have recently taken over as CEO and that you have some exciting plans for the future of Aston Foods. Perhaps you could detail a little bit about your background and these plans.

AF
I took up office on 1st July this year, a full two months before my predecessor Christian Vetterli left, to ensure a smooth transition before handover. My background as a highly experienced business consultant driving change in many companies across Europe has furnished me with the robust tools and skillset to foster and see through an exciting development plan for Aston Foods, a company which I can see has a bright future for its innovation, product quality and customer service.

BE
And you mentioned a special Bakery Day that Aston Foods is running? Can you tell me a little more about this day and what bakers can gain from it?

AF
We see ourselves as a premium solutions provider. This also comes with a responsibility, to be able to understand the integrated process of baking. So, specifically for the occasions of our Baking Days, a regular event that takes place in our company, we are cooperating with partners from research & development as well as the industry, to present the state of the art of the whole baking processes – in combination with our vacuum cooling solutions. Our clients benefit from the knowledge transfer and get an in-depth view of many relevant developments. Institutions such as the ZHAW/University of Applied Sciences/Zurich, Richemont and Swissmills will contribute their market insights to the programme.

BE
Europe is going through some tough times at the moment with instability from a political and economic point of view as well as "Brexit". What are your thoughts about how this will affect the future of Aston Foods and its direction?

AF
The political situation does not affect our business strategy in the UK & Ireland. Those have always been important markets for us and will remain such. Our customers and distributers in the UK don't see a direct impact and have provided a lively and optimistic feedback on future endeavours. However, we are aware that it's a challenging time and hope that the UK & Ireland will find a sustainable set-up with the EU and continue to drive innovation & development – in the baking industry as well as other sectors.

BE
Mr. Trübl, thank you for your time today


Website: www.astonfoods.com

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