Netherlands-based Loders Croklaan is expanding its palm oil processing facilities in the US in order to tap the growing demand for trans fat free oil.
The company plans to expand its existing plant by 10,000 square feet, increase storage capability by 200 per cent and build a state-of-the-art bleaching line in order to boosts capacity by 400 per cent.
In addition, a new oil in-line blending capability increases bulk capacity by 100 per cent.
Palm Oil, a natural oil extracted from the fruit of palm trees that is semi-solid at room temperature, is used in baking and processed food applications, and is increasingly being used as an alternative to partially hydrogenated fats.
"The pending FDA requirement for food manufacturers to label trans fat content on all products has driven unprecedented demand for functional palm oil-based alternatives," said Donald Grubba, president, Loders Croklaan North America.
"At Loders Croklaan, we have developed a range of quality products that meet the needs of food manufacturers. Our expanded facility in Channahon increases the quantity of our production and ensures the exceptional quality of our products."
Linked to raised blood cholesterol levels and heart disease in animal fats, trans fats, created by a chemical process called hydrogenation used in the production process for longer shelf life, have come under fire from consumer pressing the food industry to cut its presence from foods. The search for viable alternatives is therefore on.
As a result, the company has also been expanding its trans fat free oil operations in Europe. A new refinery in Rotterdam, billed as the largest in Europe with a total storage capacity of 50,000 tonnes, was completed last month.
"The EU has seen a rise in demand for palm oil, possibly linked to the anti-GM issue as well as the debate about trans fatty acids,"an analyst at the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service recently told FoodNavigator.com.
Over 26 million tonnes of palm oil are produced worldwide in tropical countries, with the number one supplier being Malaysia - that produced 13.3 million tonnes last year - followed by Indonesia and a raft of smaller producers.
Consumed in a wide variety of food products from instant noodles and crisps to cake mixes and snacks, palm oil has reaped a 28 per cent share of the total global supply and demand oil market. Today, soybean oil and palm oil account for over half of all oil consumed in the world.
Acquired by the IOI Group in 2002, Loders Croklaan is headquartered near Amsterdam in Wormerveer, the Netherlands. The company has major facilities in the Netherlands, Channahon, Illinois and in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia.
In 2004, the turnover was €400 million.