Rice bran tipped for debut in new European markets
bran in Central and Eastern Europe following this week's FiCEE
trade show, where the ingredient has been warmly received for its
potential to reduce manufacturers' costs.
The US company's rice bran is distributed in Europe by Azelis Food & Health, but while it has already been used in brand products in Western European markets like the UK and Italy, there have been no sales in the CEE market to date. The US company was present at FiE in London last November, but Kody Newland, senior vice president of sales, said that it did not make contact with any CEE companies there. But Newland said he expects the company's attendance at the regional event, held in Warsaw, Poland, will "open up a whole new geographic market". And given that he was already calling back to the office to request extra samples be sent over by lunchtime on day one of the show, interest certainly seems to have been piqued. Rice bran is a by-product of rice processing that is usually discarded or used as animal feed. NutraCea is, as far as Newland is aware, the only company in the world with the technology to stabilise the rice bran for human consumption, while maintaining the nutritional properties. While rice bran is rich in fibre and a host of other beneficial nutrients, one of the main attractions for manufacturers is the cost savings it can confer. For rice bran can be used as a low cost flour extender and a substitute for other, more expensive ingredients, including wheat. It is also claimed to improve product yield and maintain product quality. The sky-rocketing price of grains has led food manufacturers to look to reformulation for the long-term. "The time for rice bran could not be better," said Newland."Once a product is out there it is hard to get people to try something new," he said. It can take 12 to 18 months from a company starting its first trials until a reformulated product appears on the shelf. But the fact that companies are prepared to undergo this investment in both time and resources is taken as a strong indication that they are not expecting the price pressure to ease. As for rice, it too has been experiencing shortages and inflated prices. For NutraCea, however, this is in no way a threat to rice bran supply. "Over 60m metric tonnes are thrown away or used as animal feed," said Newland. This means it has a near-endless supply to tap into - however high the demand.