Hungrana boosts production for cake makers
popular thickening agent, announcing the completion of a major €100
million expansion project at its Szabadegyháza facility.
Hungrana, a 50-50 joint venture with Eaststarch - itself a 25-25 joint venture with ingredients firms Tate & Lyle and ADM - claims the boost to production capacities lifts it to become Europe's largest producer of corn starch and isoglucose. "One million tonnes of corn will be processed annually in this highly advanced facility, which is unrivalled in Europe," the firm, part of grain giant AGRANA, said. A dense, powdery 'flour' obtained from the endosperm portion of the corn kernel, cornstarch - also know as cornflour - is commonly used as a thickening agent in a multitude of food applications, as well as combined with flour for use in cake formulations. Isoglucose, a starch-based fructose sweetener used for cakes and biscuit fillings, and a keen competitor to sugar, is subject to a production quota in the European Union, representing about two per cent of the sugar quota. As such, production for this sweetener has been impacted by the recent sugar reform that has cut quota across the EU-27 bloc in a bid to breathe competitivity into the European sugar regime. A spokesperson at the European Commission confirmed to BakeryandSnacks.com that the isoglucose quota for the 2008-09 market year was cleared on the 6 June this year at 820,000 tonnes, with sugar coming in at 13.5 million tonnes. But reform to the sugar regime has hit the bottom line for European sugar processors. Sales revenues for Agrana's sugar segment were down last summer to €171m for the three months ended May 31, from €243m the same quarter the previous year. Agrana, an alliance of Austrian co-operative stakeholders, Germany's Südzucker and floated shareholders, said recently that efforts to make production as efficient as possible will result in the eventual closure of its plant in Petohaza, to instead focus activities at the firm's Kaposvar facilities. Elsewhere, UK food group Associated British Foods warned in February that profits could fall compared to last year because of EU regime reform. "Since the half year the European Commission has confirmed that a total of 5.65m tonnes of quota for sugar, inulin and isoglucose has been permanently renounced across the EU," the company said.