Mark McKnight was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after striking a deal to sell the company he founded - Texas-based H&N Distribution - to RiceBran Tech for an undisclosed sum.
H&N co-packs natural products and supplements for internet retailers and multi-level marketers supplying customers in the US and overseas, while RiceBran has built a business around arresting the enzymatic reaction that causes raw rice bran (a by-product of rice-milling) to deteriorate after milling such that it can stabilize the bran and produce value-added ingredients.
I’ve been working with natural products for 20 years and have never seen this kind of response
The two companies started talking about getting together after orders of nutritional drinks formulated by H&N using RiceBran Tech’s ingredients started to "really take off", said McKnight, who will join RiceBran Tech’s senior management team after the deal goes through.
“It makes sense. We’re good at formulating delicious healthy natural products and RiceBran has the raw materials we want to work with.
“I’ve been working with natural products for almost 20 years and have never seen the kind of consumer response that I’ve seen to products made with these ingredients.”
Other rice proteins are from the endosperm or the germinated seed
RiceBran stabilizes rice bran in West Sacramento and then ships it to Montana for further processing into a nutrient-rich ingredient called RiBalance. This can be further separated into RiSolubles (a soluble fiber in powder form ideal for dairy and beverages) and RiFiber (an insoluble fiber suitable for multiple food applications).
It has also developed two novel protein ingredients. Proryza P-35 is a 35% water-dispersible rice bran protein extract for beverage applications; and Proryza PF-20/50 is a 20% rice bran protein and 50% insoluble rice bran dietary fiber product suitable for bars, shakes, and other products.
While other rice proteins are from the endosperm or the germinated seed, 70% of the nutritional value of the rice is in the bran component, claimed RiceBran Tech CEO John Short.
“Of this, about 14-15% is protein, and sometimes more, whereas the protein content of the rice endosperm is more like 6-7%."
We’ve seen real success lately for protein drinks and healthy fiber drinks
The rice bran proteins blend really well with other proteins, but also work alone, said McKnight.
“We’ve seen real success lately for protein drinks and healthy fiber drinks, but there is also a lot of interest in fiber/protein combinations and lots of opportunities in bars, shots, energy drinks and other ready-to-drink beverages.”
Short said the deal to acquire H&N “not only allows us to begin an aggressive new launch of our high margin NFF [nutraceutical and functional foods] business in a multi-billion dollar worldwide market, but also brings a master formulator, consummate sales professional and experienced business manager to our senior team."
Click here to watch our interview with RiceBran Technologies at the IFT show 2013.