Purac Nederland, a subsidiary of €2.8 billion Dutch food ingredients firm CSM, is considering investing some six billion bath (€0.119 billion) in Thailand.
The funds will be poured into the construction of its first production facility, the agricultural acid plant that will use sugar as a raw material.
According to reports in the Bangkok Post yesterday, Ratanaporn Chuengsanguansit, the secretary-general of the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board, said Purac Nederland had told the office it wanted to build a plant (in Rayong) to make sodium lactate and lactic acid as raw materials for food ingredients.
Maximising on ample raw material sugar supplies in Thailand (47.8 million tonnes last year), the report claims that under the project plan, Purac needs 170,000 tonnes of sugar per year to produce 15,000 tonnes of sodium lactate and 140,000 tonnes of lactic acid.
Purac declined to confirm reports about the Thai plant proposal to FoodNavigator.com today.
Lactic acid is used extensively by the food industry as a flavour agent, preservative, and acidity adjuster in foods.
Sodium lactate, a humectant, is used in cakes to produce a tender crumb and to reduce staling. This non-meat ingredient is also absorbed into meat formulations for specific flavour, shelf-life and safety aspects.
The report cites Ratanaporn as saying the Purac proposal is in line with the sugar industry's aim to encourage the development of value-added products from sugar.
In June Purac passed price rises onto the market, due to a hike in price for its chemical raw material sources, including caustic soda and a range of smaller chemicals.
Increases ranged between five and ten per cent across its portfolio of lactic acid and lactate products.
Rising costs for energy and packaging materials have also made an impact, and spurred the move to hike up European prices from 15 June.
The range, from €0.70 to €3 a kilo, spans food and feed grade to the higher pharma grade.