Raisio Group ramps up global production of gluten-free oat products with US$8.9m investment
09 Jan 2020 --- Raisio Group is targeting the expansion of its international oat business, with investments of €8 million (US$8.9 million) funneled into increasing capacity at the company’s oat mill in Nokia, Finland. This will allow the company capability to produce gluten-free oat products at its mill.
The popularity of oats is notably sustained by a burgeoning consumer appetite for plant-based proteins. The Plant Based Revolution has been tipped as the number two trend for 2020 by Innova Market Insights and the dairy alternatives category represents a key growth area in this consumer-driven movement.
“Thanks to the investments, our oat mill is now in top working condition. We increased the mill capacity and our ability to manufacture different oat products to meet the growing demand in Finland and the rest of Europe. The oat boom is just beginning in Europe now, so the growth perspectives are quite interesting,” says Pekka Kuusniemi, President and CEO of Raisio.
Added value from gluten-free and oat fiber products
Oats are a naturally gluten-free grain, but in normal production conditions, small amounts of other grains may be mixed in. Several different purification phases are involved in the production of gluten-free oat products as a means of ensuring that other grains are removed from the oats. Raisio notes that its products are run through several phases of analysis to ensure that they are completely gluten-free.
“We have invested in the production of our gluten-free oat products so that we can accelerate the export of quality Finnish foods in a competitive manner. The first Elovena Gluten-free products manufactured at the mill in Nokia will appear in shops around the end of January or beginning of February,” Pekka Kuusniemi explains
Furthermore, Raisio’s oat mill can now also produce oat fiber products with a high beta-glucan content. Beta-glucan is an oat fiber that helps to reduce cholesterol and prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Significant investments in plant-based foods
In addition to developing its oat mill, Raisio is currently building a production facility to manufacture plant-based added-value products. The cost estimate of the facility is approximately €45 million (US$50 million) and it is scheduled to be completed in 2021, as reported on FoodIngredientsFirst. The investments in production development support one another, as the oat mill can now provide ingredients that are needed by the new production facility rising in Raisio’s industrial area.
“While our short-term growth expectations are focused, in particular, on the export of oat products to industrial customers, our overall strategic goal is to further build our Elovena brand in a way that will draw greater interest from international consumers,” explains Kuusniemi.
Oats are enjoying a renaissance, thriving on both their heart health benefits and fiber potential. Last March, Raisio had entered into an agreement to form a strategic alliance with Italian company Dr. Schär AG, a global food company specializing in gluten-free foods.
Big players are notably tapping into the success of the oat-derived protein market. Earlier this week, oat milk introduced as the Starbucks’ newest non-dairy option across select Midwestern US markets as part of this year’s winter line-up.
Last June, oats were among the top six “up-and-coming plant-based proteins” pegged by Givaudan in collaboration with the University of California Berkeley’s Product Development Programme (UC Berkley). The Swiss flavor house identified these as likely game-changers for the food industry and, in particular, nutritional beverages.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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