Cargill enters glycerin business with new production plant

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Good, Cargill

Cargill is set to expand its ingredient portfolio for the food
industry, announcing last week that it is to open a
30-million-pounds-per-year glycerin refinery.

Glycerin, a colorless, odorless, sweet-tasting liquid is primarily used as an emulsifier in food applications, including candy, baked goods, meats and cheese.

The ingredient, which is a by-product of biodiesel, is to be produced in a refinery adjacent to Cargill's new 37.5-million-gallon-capacity biodiesel production plant in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

The leading US agribusiness firm said it will produce commercial volumes of USP grade glycerin as well as other grades from soybean oil, all due to be available by July 1.

"We will be the first North American producer to combine soybean crushing, biodiesel production and USP Glycerin production at one plant site. This complete backward integration will enable us to deliver a stable, consistent quality product affordably and reliably to customers around the world,"​ said Kurtis Miller, president of Cargill Industrial Oils & Lubricants.

In food applications, glycerin is often used as a humectant, or softening agent, absorbing water and helping to keep products- such as candy and cakes- moist. It is also used as a solvent for flavors, such as vanilla, and food coloring, and as a filler in low-fat food products, such as cookies.

Other uses include the manufacture of mono- and di-glycerides for use as emulsifiers, and the manufacture of polyglycerol esters for shortenings and margarines.

Glycerin is also popular in a wide range of pharmaceutical and industrial applications, including cosmetics, plastics and paints.

Cargill said it plans to "work with the full range of customers to build its glycerin business both domestically and globally."

Glycerin is in "good supply" in the US market, although a significant portion is currently imported. According to Cargill, the firm's glycerin production may supplant a portion- less than a third- of the imported supply.

The firm's biodiesel plant is due to open by May, with the glycerin plant to follow in June.

Cargill told FoodNavigator-USA.com that several customers have already expressed an interest in the product.

"Since we already have good customer outreach into potential audiences in both industrial and food sides, it made sense to add glycerin to our products,"​ said spokesperson Bill Brady.

"We can ensure a high volume, reliable supply and consistent quality,"​ he added.

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