Beneo increases rice starch production by 50% at Belgium facility

July 13, 2020

Beneo increased its production capacity by 50% at its Wijgmaal, Belgium facility in response to rising customer demand for its rice starches.

Beneo (Parsippany, NJ) increased its production capacity by 50% at its Wijgmaal, Belgium facility in response to rising customer demand for its rice starches. A two-stage expansion process valued at $56 million will lead to increased capacity by March 2022. 

“We fundamentally believe in the value of this investment with demand for rice starch coming from both natural and organic growth, as well as from new projects and applications,” said Roland Vanhoegaerden, operations managing director, specialty rice ingredients at Beneo, in a press release. “One of the key reasons for our confidence is the clean-label trend, where food manufacturers are moving away from artificial additives and replacing them with natural alternatives, such as rice starch.”

Rice starch can fill up all of the micropores on the surface of coatings due to its very fine particle size, which is beneficial for confectionery manufacturers during the production process, as it ensures a stable result where edges do not crack or splinter. Rice starch also allows for the preservation of a brilliant white color for months. And given that as of January 1, 2020, France banned titanium dioxide, as an additive to fill microscopic irregularities, Beneo is already seeing an interest in rice starch from major companies. “We will soon have a much larger capacity in place to address this rising demand,” Vanhoegaerden said.

Technical trials by the Beneo-Technology Center have shown that clean-label rice starch can also play an important role in a variety of other applications including baked goods and products that need to undergo severe processing conditions such as sauces, dressings, and even food. 

Additionally, a recent investment into its docking station means the company can now accept two barges at its plant, rather than one. As a result, two-thirds of rice raw material is now received by barge and just one-third by truck. 

“The impact is on cost saving, but also on the environment, due to lower carbon emissions and a reduction in traffic. Our factory is in the middle of an urban area and by increasing barge use we can reduce congestion and noise levels in the neighborhood,” Vanhoegaerden said.

Beneo’s investment at the Wijgmaal facilities will increase the number of production lines from two to three. The first phase will take place at the tail-end of the production process for existing lines. The installation of a third drier and dewatering line allows the company to reduce bottlenecks and further increase efficiency. The second expansion phase will involve the front-end of the production process, starting from soaking through to the separation of the starch from the proteins in the valorization step.