Members of Kemin/Lambert Spearmint Team
2013 – 2014 Co-Recipient of the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation
Reason for Induction: Recognized for using innovative growing and post-harvesting processes for patented spearmint varieties unique to Starke County. This specialty crop produces an all-natural extract effective in delaying lipid oxidation, color loss and deterioration in human food, animal food and other products for global markets.
This Chanute Prize Co-Recipient Team consists of Kemin Food Technologies in North Judson, a division of Kemin Food Technologies, Inc., Des Moines, and Edward Lambert Jr., partner, Lambert Bros, LLC. This team is engaged in the growing, harvesting and processing for use in food and other products a unique proprietary form of spearmint or menthe Spicata L. This uses an extract that has both flavoring and antioxidant properties which have been shown to be especially effective in delaying lipid oxidation, color loss, and deterioration of other sensitive molecules. Unlike mint oil routinely derived from mint plant, this use comes from properties found in the naturally grown plant, a special variety of spearmint.
Working with Lambert Farms, different cultivation technique were developed as well as a new and specialized drying process. A $1.6 million investment by Kemin Food Technologies, this 7,000 sq. ft. facility in North Judson contains a 116 foot long proprietary microwave dryer specially created for this process. Critical to processing these spearmint varieties is that the spearmint must be processed within 1 hour, which requires a unique harvesting and processing system. Both the special varieties and the microwave drying process used to dry the spearmint are patented by Kemin. Using this property in human and animal foods, the shelf life of prepared and packaged foods is extended and there less food is wasted. Grown in Starke County, Ed Lambert, a third generation farmer, is the only producer of these special varieties in the world!
The growing, harvesting and processing of these special spearmint varieties – KI 110 and K1142 – produced for global markets reflect the innovative spirit of Kemin Food Technologies and its founder R. W. Nelson. This nomination was made by Charles W. Weaver, Executive Director, Starke County Foundation.
The Chanute Prize is co-sponsored by Krieg-DeVault and NIPSCO. Krieg DeVault is the founding sponsor of the traveling trophy.