BENEO invests six million Euro in starch drying capacity

Drum dryer prior to commissioning

BENEO creates new jobs at the Wijgmaal factory

BENEO, a leading manufacturer of functional ingredients for food, feed and pharma, is investing six million Euro in new drying capacity at its Wijgmaal factory to keep pace with growing demand for its specialty rice starch ingredients. The installation of a new drum dryer, housed within a newly constructed 1,000m2 facility, will deliver a 50% expansion in capacity for producing clean label precooked rice starches with special properties/added benefits. The investment will also reate six new full-time jobs at the factory, which already employs 200 people and has a proud tradition of 160 years in the Wijgmaal area.

“These are exciting times for our Wijgmaal plant and for the local economy. This latest investment will not only secure the future growth of our pre-cooked rice starch portfolio but will create new employment opportunities. As the new drum dryer is currently in the phase of commissioning the line and scheduled to be up and running in the coming months, we are already looking to recruit people from the surrounding area for these new positions,” says Roland Vanhoegaerden, Operations Managing Director, Specialty Rice Ingredients, at BENEO.

Over the past five years, BENEO has seen an increasing demand for its pre-cooked starch ingredients owing to the added functionality they deliver to food products. BENEO’s drum drying treatment enables the production of rice starches for BENEO’s customers with stringent safety requirements, including
baby food manufacturers. The dryer itself has been built to an ultra-hygienic design specification, and the production area is zoned and air conditioned using microbiological-level filters. Working together with the dryer manufacturer, BENEO has created a state-of-the-art, high care production space that combines the latest energy efficient drying technology with best-in-class hygienic design.

Next to this, BENEO’s pre-cooked rice starches can be used by the food manufacturers to make pudding more creamy, to improve the dough consistency of a pizza crust or the viscosity of soups, in a more convenient way.

Whilst the production of starches with special properties often involves the use of chemicals, the advanced drum drying technique deployed by BENEO is an entirely physical process. Not only does this yield pure, label-friendly ingredients, it also results in cleaner waste water that has a lower load on local treatment facilities and the environment.

The design of the extension has also been further enhanced to minimise the risk of noise nuisance to neighbours. “We do our best to communicate well with our neighbours and the wider community about any changes here at our site in Wijgmaal – we encourage people to contact us directly with any questions or observations and we know, from past experience, that this approach is appreciated,” says Vanhoegaerden.

BENEO is deeply committed to continuous investment in the site. The company recently invested 50 million Euro in expanding production capacity of regular rice starches, and in 2021, it spent half a million Euro on upgrading its barge freight capabilities to reduce the number of truck movements to and from
the plant. “Our intention is to invest in the site in ways that will secure its future and benefit local communities,” says Vanhoegaerden.