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Bunge expands corn dry milling operations

19-Nov-2008

Bunge North America has purchased corn dry mill assets and the Ceratex line of specialty products from JR Short Milling Company, to increase its customer base and boost its capacity in the US.

The North American arm of Bunge Limited said it hoped the expanded line of products would drive new business, while the acquisition of an additional plant would help the company better serve its customers in the brewing and snacks industries.

The plant in Kankakee, Illinois, is in addition to Bunge Milling's three other US plants in Illinois, Kansas, and Nebraska.

The Ceratex brand of corn products are pre-gelatinized and processed to deliver specific functions in applications, such as texture or high absorption. They also boast of having no additives, being naturally gluten-free and Kosher/Halal approved.

A spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “With the Short acquisition, Bunge purchased a line of specialty products branded Ceratex. These various products are further processed and provide specific functionalities in food products. Bunge did not previously offer these products.

“In addition to the new line of products, the acquisition provides Bunge with additional milling capacity in the eastern half of the United States so that we can more effectively serve this market.”

“Bunge has corn dry milling operations only in North America where it is a solid business for us. Our milling operations serve customers in the ready-to-eat cereals, snack, brewing and baking industries.”

The financial terms of the acquisition have not been released but Bunge said it expects to keep a majority of the employees currently working at the plant Kankakee.

Todd Bastean, vice president and general manager, Bunge Milling, added: “This purchase enables us to balance our operations in a core North American business, corn dry milling, so that we now have two locations in the western half of the US and two in the eastern half.

“This additional plant enables Bunge to better serve our existing customers and reach out to new customers with an expanded line of products.”

Wet milling

Last week Bunge announced that it would terminate a merger agreement with Corn Products International (CPI), which supplies food ingredients and industrial products derived from wet milling corn and other starch-based materials.

The $4.8bn agreement, announced in June, was expected to move Bunge closer to becoming the second largest agribusiness in the world.

But it was thrown into turmoil when CPI’s board of directors notified Bunge of its intent to withdraw its recommendation in favor of adopting the previously announced merger agreement, and instead recommend against it.

When asked if Bunge was still looking to expand wet milling operations, the spokesperson said: “One of Bunge's growth strategies is to invest in complementary value chains. We will continue to evaluate opportunities.”

The main products of wet milling include starch and starch-derived products such as high fructose corn syrup and ethanol, corn oil, corn gluten, and corn gluten, while corn flakes, corn grits, and corn meal are made using the dry milling process.

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