The first phase of the project will begin later this summer on a 40-acre site, meaning the production of dietary oat fiber should begin in the third quarter of 2005 and create up to 26 new jobs.
"The new oat fiber plant is being constructed in response to the increasing demand for oat fiber by the food industry," said Dean Budney, general manager of the JRSUSA operation in Schoolcraft, Michigan.
J. Rettenmaier USA's parent company, which is headquartered in Holzmühle, Germany, last year opened a new production plant in Weissenborn for the manufacture of colloidal microcrystalline cellulose - Vivapur MCG - and a unique range of wheat and oat fibre colloidal types - Vitacel WFG and HFG.
Oat fiber is rich in beta-glutan that clinical studies have shown significantly reduces LDL and total cholesterol.
Soluble fiber was the first whole food for which the Food and Drug Administration allowed a health claim and since 1997 product labels have stated that: "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include soluble fiber from oatmeal may reduce the risk of heart disease."
More than 100 million Americans have elevated cholesterol levels. For the 65 million who are 'borderline high', (200-239 mg/dL), lifestyle modifications such as diet can play a role in maintaining normal cholesterol levels, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP).
Moreover, the North American markets are seen as being ripe for expansion for fiber rich products as until now consumers here have got most of the their dietary fiber from oat bran or wheat bran rather than as a supplement or a food ingredient.