MGP defends wheat resistant starch

Related tags Wheat

Eager to protect a burgeoning market in value-added ingredients
wheat protein supplier MGP Ingredients has filed a case against
rival ingredients supplier Manildra Milling corporation.

Kansas-based MGP Ingredients alleges that Manildra has violated MGP's patent on certain food-grade starches with its recently announced wheat resistant starch, GemStar R70.

The wheat-based resistant starches supplied by MGPI are based on a technology invented by Kansas State University grain science researchers and subsequently patented in 1999 by the Kansas State University (K-State) Research Foundation. In March 2003, the Research Foundation licensed the technology exclusively to MGP Ingredients.

The complaint claims that Manildra's actions infringe on a patent relating to food grade starches resistant to alpha-amylase degradation that has been exclusively licensed to MGPI. MGPI is seeking an injunction and a triple damage award.

"This is a very important patent to MGPI. We produce and market our MGPI FiberStar line of ingredients under it. We intend to protect our patent rights,"​ commented Ladd Seaberg, president of MGPI.

Ingredients companies looking to up margins are increasingly looking towards value-added ingredients and away from commodity ingredients. Earlier this month MGPI reported that opportunities for growth have come from the growing fad for the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet - currently with over 30 million American followers - that has upped demand for its speciality wheat protein isolates - Arise - and FiberStar 70, the firm's resistant wheat starch.

"They are attracting a tremendous amount of attention for both their functional and nutritional qualities in creating high-protein, low-carbohydrate products. The popularity of various high-protein, low-carb diets continues to build momentum, which many industry sources believe may not level off for possibly two to three years,"​Mike Trautschold, vice president of marketing and sales at MGP, said recently.

According to Trautschold, sales of the new FiberStar 70 resistant wheat starch launched onto the market in 2003 are already showing strong interest.

For the first nine months of 2004, sales of the firm's speciality ingredients, consisting mainly of wheat proteins and starches, increased by nearly 100 per cent over sales in the first nine months for the year before. In February this year the Kansas-based firm reported a net profit for the quarter ended 13 December of $1.8 million (€1.5m), a massive leap from $48,000 the year before.

According to the university, K-State grain science professor Paul Seib is the inventor of the resistant starch technology, a way to modify plant-based starches to resist digestive juices and the enzyme amylase.

Former K-State graduate student Kyungsoo Woo, who completed his Doctoral research on starches under Seib's direction, is the co-inventor on US Patent No. 5,855,946. After graduation from K-State in 1999, Woo was hired by MGP Ingredients.

The patent covers a special modification of any starch derived from the cereal grains, roots, tubers and legumes; for example, from wheat, corn, oats, rice, potato, tapioca and mung beans.

Any product that uses flour can be made with these resistant starches, including breads, buns, crackers, biscuits, chips and pastas. Seib said in a recent K-State university article that when incorporated into food products, the new starches have two potential health benefits.

"Some of the starch is slowly digested, which results in a sustained, low elevation of blood sugar."

According to Kansas State University's Intellectual Property Policy pertaining to inventions, the K-State Research Foundation retains a negotiated percentage of royalties and an inventor or co-inventors share 25 per cent of royalties.

Related topics Markets

Related news

Follow us


View more