While gluten-free bakery was proving a key market opportunity in the US and the UK, food manufacturers in Asia were most interested in using SRB as a filler and water-binder in processed meat products, said company bosses in a conference call with analysts and investors about its first quarter results.
“Our distributor in the Philippines has increased orders pretty significantly and we have also cracked an entry into China. We’re talking about a couple of container loads moving this month to start with, but the target that the SRB product will be included in is the largest meat manufacturer in China, so the potential is theoretically huge.”
SRB, which was cheaper than soy or whey protein, was also non-allergenic, and could also help firms make wholegrain claims on pack, said the firm, which posted a $1.3m loss on sales up 10.7 percent to $8m in the three months to March 31.
The only game in town
While other firms made rice bran products for the animal nutrition market, NutraCea was the “only game in town” when it came to high quality SRB for the human nutrition market, claimed sales chief Colin Garner (pictured).
“In the next two months we’ll be visiting existing and potential customers including many large US food companies to further our technical sales efforts.”
Bosses were also exploring a number of potential locations to build new bio refineries for rice bran in the US, Asia and South America, said chief operating officer Leo Gingras.
Meanwhile, the Irgovel rice bran oil bio-refining business in Brazil was going from strength to strength, he said. “We’re selling more products at higher prices. The [bio-refining] business continues to be a major contributor to our improving financial performance.”
Defatted rice bran
A raft of higher-value products - from an ultra-potent antioxidant-rich rice bran oil to rice lecithin and food grade defatted rice bran – were also being explored, said the firm.
Bosses were particularly excited by the potential of defatted rice bran to cut fat in coatings and batters by reducing oil uptake during frying, cutting costs and improving the nutritional profile of products such as chicken nuggets.
Producing rice lecithin – which had an advantage over soy lecithin given its non allergenic and non-GMO credentials – would require the installation of a new drier – expected by the end of 2011, said the firm. However, a new oil distillation system that would enable NutraCea to produce a new anti-oxidant-rich rice bran oil might take longer.
The firm, which made a net loss of $15.7m in 2010 compared with a $32m net loss in 2009, produces a range of products from rice bran including nutty-flavored frying and dipping oils and soluble and insoluble fibers for food and drink applications.
It also makes dietary supplements rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, phytosterols and minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and gamma oryzanol.
Rice bran is the outer layer of the brown rice kernel after the husk has been removed and was until recently regarded as waste by-product of commercial rice-milling.