NutraCea taking rice bran to big food players

By Clarisse Douaud in Anaheim

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Rice bran, Rice, Mexico

NutraCea is looking to branch into the mainstream food market with
its stabilized rice bran ingredient as part of a business model
that would prop up the humanitarian arm of the company.

The Californian manufacturer has developed a stabilized rice bran that is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It has been promoting the ingredient as a means of eradicating malnutrition around the world, through the use of what is generally discarded as a waste product. However, the company has been taking steps towards the mainstream food industry and was pushing its ingredient's potential to buyers at the Expo West show in Anaheim. "We're exposing this industry​ [rice bran] to the big food companies and building a team to support the growth of this ingredient,"​ NutraCea spokesperson Kurt Kreuter, told NutraIngredients-USA. Kreuter said the advantage of stabilized rice bran for food companies is that it is cost effective compared with other grain ingredients including soy and oats. He claimed rice is a grain that consumers have been identifying with more and more and that there has been a 40 percent increase in rice consumption in the United States since the 1990s. The food applications of rice bran are very diverse, said Kreuter, because NutraCea can reduce the particle size. The ingredient can be used in grain-based products, yoghurts and beverages among other things. The angle of a 'wasted product', however, does not work with the major food companies, according to Kreuter. As such, the company does not expect to play up this aspect of the ingredient. Nonetheless, NutraCea would like the possibility of co-branding with food manufacturers in order to get the humanitarian mission of their operation known. "The ultimate vision is to fund the humanitarian side of the business with the food industry,"​ said Kreuter. The company recently announced the signing of a distribution agreement with Mexican group FX Morales, whose customers include multinationals Grupo Gamesa (Frito Lay, Pepsico, Quaker, Gatorade) Grupo Bimbo, Grupo Maseca, Kellogg, Nestle, Kraft, Unilever and Bristol Myers Squibb. The company would not disclose any other agreements or discussions underway. "It's too soon to talk about specific launches, but there are active projects,"​ said Kreuter. NutraCea also plans to strengthen the scientific profile of its stabilized rice bran. "We're ramping up our clinical research right now."

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