The company has for years been developing a line of ingredients from rice bran, a feedstock that previously was used as low grade animal feed or was simply discarded. Many millions of tons of this raw material is available in the US as a byproduct of the production of white rice in California and Arkansas.
RBT, which was formerly known as NutraCea, has developed a suite of ingredient including a protein line called ProRyza. The company has had a sustainability message of finding high grade ingredients in erstwhile waste material. And the ingredients fit well into the modern push toward plant-based proteins and clean labels.
Nevertheless, the company has struggled to gain sufficient traction for its products. Complicating the story was a money losing investment in a Brazilian business and an apparently ill considered move into contract manufacturing.
New acquisitions, sales increase
In 2018, the company acquired a rice milling firm in Arkansas called Golden Ridge Rice Mills. It also just announced it is branching out into new grain feedstocks with the acquisition of MGI Grain, based in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. MGI Grain is a specialty milling company producing ingredients from barley and oats.
After years of restructuring the company and suffering consistent losses (in additon to the Brazil exit the company also moved its headquarters in 2018 to Houston), Rice Bran Technologies is finally starting to show significant traction on the sales front.
“We are pleased to say that RiceBran Technologies realized meaningful 15% plus growth in our rice bran products during the fourth quarter; the strongest sales growth in those products in many years,” said CEO Brent Rystrom in an earnings call with analysts. The call was posted in transcript form on the site seekingalpha.com.
Rystrom said the company is now projecting fiscal 2019 sales in the $37 million to $40 million range, which includes a $2 million sales contribution from MGI Grain.