Malted ingredients supplier Muntons is to invest £4.5m in its Stowmarket Suffolk plant to increase its malt extract capacity.

A 27-metre-high building is being constructed on its existing site to house a new multi-stage evaporator, which the business said would remove bottlenecks, increasing production by around 15%. The existing evaporator will then be used to process specialist malt extracts, such as ultra-dark malt and enzyme-rich diastatic extracts.

As a result, Muntons said it would need to recruit five more production operatives over the course of the next few months.

“Demand for malted ingredients is at an all-time high – good news for us, but also bringing its problems, as every tonne of malt extract made is sold as fast as it is produced,” said Nigel Davies, Muntons technical and sustainability director.

He noted a steady drift towards natural ingredients, away from fats and sugars, as consumers look to embrace healthier lifestyles.

“This has triggered the introduction of traffic lights on packaging, targeted reductions in sugar and fat and has also steered manufacturers towards ‘better-for-you’ products generally, as consumers seek healthier alternatives,” Davies added.

Malt, according to Muntons, has no fat or e-numbers and contains a range of nutrients and minerals, which make it a “desirable ingredient for the modern, health-conscious world”.

Muntons was established in 1921 and supplies malts, malt extracts, flours and flakes, serving both the brewing and distilling industries as well as food and bakery operations.