June 28th 2023
BENEO is investing 6 million euros in a new drum-dryer for its rice starch facility in Wijgmaal, which will create 6 new jobs too.
BENEO, a leading manufacturer of functional ingredients for the food, feed and pharmaceutical industry, is investing six million euros. This is to expand the drum-drying capacity of the factory in Wijgmaal near Leuven and thus keep up with the increasing demand for specialized rice starch ingredients.
In a new 1,000 square meter space, a brand new drying drum will be installed to increase the capacity for the production of clean label precooked (or cold water soluble) rice starch with specialized properties/additional benefits by 50 percent. The investment also creates six new full-time jobs in the factory, which already employs 200 people and is proud of its 160-year tradition in Wijgmaal.
“These are exciting times for our factory in Wijgmaal and for the local economy. This latest investment will not only guarantee the future growth of our pre-cooked rice starch range, but also create employment opportunities. As the new drying roller is currently in the start-up phase and should be operational in the coming months, we are already looking for people from the region for these new positions,” says Roland Vanhoegaerden, Operations Managing Director for rice ingredients at BENEO.
Over the past five years, BENEO has seen demand for its pre-cooked starch ingredients increase as they make foods so much more functional. Thanks to the drum-dryer, BENEO can produce rice starch for its customers with strict safety requirements, such as manufacturers of baby food. The dryer itself is built to an ultra-hygienic design and the production area is a separate air-conditioned zone with microbiological filters. In collaboration with the manufacturer of the drum-dryer, BENEO has set up a state-of-the-art, high-care production area that combines the latest energy-efficient drying technology with the very best hygienic design.
In addition, BENEO’s pre-cooked rice starch can be used by food manufacturers to make puddings creamier, make the dough of a pizza crust firmer or thicken soups in a more convenient way.
While the production of rice starch with specialized properties often involves the use of chemicals, BENEO’s advanced drum-drying technique is an entirely physical process. This not only produces a clean label starch, but also cleaner waste water that has less impact on local treatment plants and the environment.
When designing the extension, extra efforts were also made to limit possible noise nuisance to the neighborhood as much as possible. “We do our very best to communicate well with our neighbors and the wider community about any changes to our property in Wijgmaal, we encourage anyone to contact us directly with any questions or concerns and we know from experience that such an approach is appreciated,” says Vanhoegaerden.
BENEO is determined to continue to invest in the factory. The company recently spent 50 million euros in increasing the production capacity of ordinary rice starch and in 2021 it invested half a million euros in expanding freight transport by barge to reduce truck traffic to and from the factory. “Our investments in this factory should make it future-proof and benefit the local communities,” continues Vanhoegaerden.