The study was conducted by American independent research firm Ingredient Technologies and sponsored by NutraCea, a manufacturer and distributor of products and food ingredients made from rice bran through its proprietary technology. "The test results clearly validate the fact that SRB can play a significant role in the reduction of fat in battered and fried product applications," said John Duffy, president of Ingredient Technologies. "The fact that it does so while also providing a reduction in cost will provide a tremendous value to the market." The study presents the benefits of the ingredient amid growing demands for healthy products as well as for cost-cutting initiatives on the back of climbing commodity costs. The study Researchers replaced 20 percent of the wheat flour used in a batter preparation with SRB, resulting in a finished product that contained 32 per cent less fat, 26 per cent fewer calories and 5 per cent lower sodium. Researchers said the results indicated that the replacement of wheat flour with SRB did not effect on the colour, taste or texture of the finished product. Furthermore, it was found that for certain foods, using SRB in place of some of the wheat flour meant an 11 per cent lower production cost. Paul Mathewson, NutraCea's chief science officer, said: "We are greatly encouraged by the results of this study, because they support our conviction that SRB can be successfully utilised in a wide range of food applications." Rising costs "Food prices are in an upward spiral, driven by the cost of grain, which are at 10-year average highs," said Kody Newland, NutraCea's vice president of sales. "Obviously food manufacturers' ability to lower production costs while improving the nutritional profiles of their products is a highly appealing proposition." Wheat prices have been growing steadily over the last year, in some cases running at up to five times the level seen in early 2007. Poor harvests and competition from biofuels and emerging markets have been blamed for the increases, which have had to be passed on to consumers, sometimes with difficulty. Manufacturers have been exploring different ways to curb the impact of rising prices. For example, earlier this month, AB Enzymes stepped up the promotion of its Veron HH enzymes, which can be used to replace gluten in bakery products. A spokesperson told BakeryAndSnacks.com that 1kg of wheat gluten can be replaced by 500g of gluten plus 3g of Veron HF to achieve cost savings of 40 - 50 per cent depending on local prices.