NutraCea to build first wheat bran plant

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wheat, Nutracea

NutraCea is entering into an alliance to construct a new flour mill
in Indonesia that will incorporate the firm's new stabilized wheat
bran technology.

The company, which has so far focused on its stabilized rice bran activities, this month filed for a patent for its technology to stabilize wheat bran. The company hopes this could help make wheat bran a commercially viable ingredient for use in foods. NutraCea said that the construction of the first full-scale wheat stabilization facility will be a move to validating the technology, and promote its widespread use to convert wheat bran into a food ingredient. "We believe that this new business opportunity with wheat bran stabilization is a natural segue to diversify the use of our proprietary stabilization technology beyond rice bran and offers potentially larger opportunities for the company even as we continue to execute on our rice bran program globally,"​ said Brad Edson, the firm's president and CEO. Flour produced at the new mill will be blended with "significant amounts"​ of stabilized wheat bran, said NutraCea. In addition, stabilized wheat bran will be sold as a stand alone ingredient. Construction is set to start in mid 2008, with operations slated to start in early 2010. The total cost of the project is estimated at about $35m. Construction costs, revenues and profits will be shared 51 percent by NutraCea and 49 percent by its Indonesian partner. NutraCea will lease its proprietary stabilization equipment to the venture, but will maintain all of the intellectual property rights to the technology and patents. Production from the Indonesian facility when fully operational is estimated to be 180,000 tons annually. "If the plant is run at full capacity and assuming current wheat flour prices, revenues from the facility are anticipated to exceed $100 million annually. Margins are expected to be significantly better than those of traditional mills due to the inclusion of NutraCea's cost effective stabilized wheat bran technology,"​ said the firm. NutraCea's wheat bran stabilization process is a modification and an extension of its existing rice bran technology. Like many cereal brans, wheat bran has a relatively short shelf life, meaning its usefulness as a human food is limited. NutraCea said its newly filed provisional patent for wheat bran extends the shelf life while maintaining the nutritional value making it a commercially viable ingredient for any wheat-based food product. The provisional patent that the firm has applied for in the US is also applicable to other cereal brans and oilseeds. "Like our rice bran, stabilized wheat bran has an excellent flavor and shelf life along with an impressive nutritional profile,"​ said Edson. According to Edson, the firm is already in "preliminary discussions"​ with a number of wheat flour mills in the globally. "We have not yet entered into any formal agreements outside of Indonesia, but with our facility in Indonesia underway shortly, we will turn our focus to advance this new business opportunity in the US and throughout the world,"​ he said.

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