The firm, which has been working with DSM for over a year, has made “significant progress in our R&D efforts”, claimed chief executive John Short on a conference call with analysts earlier this month.
“We’re now turning our attention to the development of an initial fast-to-market product based on higher than normal concentrations of rice protein. We expect to have more news on this effort in the first half of 2012.
"We are encouraged by the results produced in the DSM laboratories.”
Non-GM, non-allergenic, easily digested…
Under a joint research and development agreement struck with DSM in August, the two are sharing existing patented and proprietary intellectual property to investigate the extraction and modification of high quality vegetable proteins from rice bran.
Details of who is contributing what and what the commercial arrangement might be as and when a product comes to market have yet to be released. However, the potential was clear, said Short, citing the fact that rice protein could be marketed as non-GM, non-allergenic, easily-digested and with a full range of amino acids.
However, the other key attraction was sustainability, as firms increasingly sought alternatives to animal proteins, he said.
Rice bran - the outer layer of the brown rice kernel after the husk has been removed - was until recently regarded as a waste by-product of commercial rice-milling and used as low-grade animal feed.
By arresting the enzymatic reaction that causes raw rice bran to deteriorate after milling, however, NutraCea has been able to stabilize it and produce a range of high quality ingredients for the human nutrition market “with little or no additional demand on the scarce resources of arable land already used to grow rice”, noted Short.
‘We are starting to get traction in the market for a wide range of human ingredient applications’
NutraCea, which recently signed a deal with BENEO-Remy that will see the latter distribute its stabilized rice bran for exclusive distribution by BENEO-Remy in over 40 countries, sees potential for the ingredient in a range of applications from gluten-free baking to improving texture in processed meat and meat-free products.
Said Short: “We are starting to get traction in the market for a wide range of human ingredient applications including meat extenders, baked goods, pastas, gluten-free products, whole grain products and other categories.”
The firm, which has recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, is also 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.