PARSIPPANY, NJ. — Beneo will increase production capacity at its Wijgmaal, Belgium, rice starch facility by 50% by March 2022 through a two-stage expansion valued at $56 million.

The expansion will increase the number of production lines to three from two. The first phase will involve the end of the production processes for existing lines. Beneo will install a third dryer and dewatering line that will reduce bottlenecks and increase efficiency. The second phase will involve the front end of the production process, starting with soaking and going through to the separation of the starch from the proteins in the vaporization step.

“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. “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 may fill all the micropores on the surface of coatings because of its very fine particle size, according to Beneo. This smoothing effect, when used in confectionery manufacturing, ensures a stable result where edges do not crack or splinter. Rice starch also may replace titanium dioxide since it helps preserve a brilliant white color for months. Beneo technical trials have shown rice starch plays a role in a variety of applications, including baked foods and products that undergo severe processing conditions like sauces and dressings.