TOMBALL, TEXAS, US — RiceBran Technologies earlier this month began a capacity expansion project at its core stabilized rice bran (SRB) facility in Mermentau, Louisiana, US. According to the company, the added capacity will allow RiceBran to meet growing demand for North American-sourced ingredients for the companion animal market.

As part of the expansion, RiceBran said it will add a fifth extruder at the Mermentau facility. The company said it is repurposing equipment from one of its other facilities, which is helping to keep costs down.

In addition, RiceBran has completed remediation of its warehouse and distribution facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana, US. The Lake Charles facility had been damaged by Hurricane Laura in August 2020. The remediation of the Lake Charles facility was funded entirely by insurance proceeds, RiceBran said.

“These upgrades provide important redundancy and will allow our rice bran stabilizing facility in Mermentau to match the full capacity of our supply partner, who in turn has made investments over the past two years to minimize historical seasonal downtime,” said Garry Primeaux, core-SRB business lead at RiceBran. “Together, with the remediation and enhancement of Lake Charles, these factors add significant overall capacity to our Louisiana operations, ensuring that we will be able to meet the rapidly growing demands of new and existing customers the companion animal market, with only a modest capital investment.”

Peter Bradley, chairman of RiceBran, added, “The companion animal market is experiencing tremendous growth due to the high volume of people that acquired animal companions during the COVID epidemic. This growth has been further accelerated by the popularity of companion animals in higher-demographic households, and these new owners’ desire to feed their pets healthy and natural products. Combined, these factors are driving a structural shift in the industry toward stabilized rice bran ingredients, and we are able to respond. This relatively modest investment at Mermentau, along with the remediation and enhancement of our Lake Charles facility, provides RiceBran with a unique opportunity to capitalize on the current macro-environment.”