The new plant, expected to begin production by December 2004, will be in the Ningbo Free Trade Zone, south east of Shanghai. It will produce Solbar's functional soy protein concentrates, textured soy concentrates and steam-textured soy proteins.
"This is a major investment for us at Solbar, that represents our global strategy to lead the soy proteins market in Asia Pacific and China and make it possible for Solbar to increase its overall soy protein production capabilities," said Micha Harari, managing director at Solbar. He did not reveal the cost of the new plant, which will be certified ISO 9001-2000 and built according to HACCP standards.
Last year the firm invested further in its isolated soy protein facility at Ashdod in Israel through a major capital investment. It has been expanding its soy concentrate range over recent years to respond to growing demand in health foods.
In 2001, 3.2 per cent of the world's soybean crush was further processed into soy proteins, according to a recent report from market research firm Soyatech. But this use ofcrushed soybeans for food ingredients is growing at aboutsix times the rate of the use of whole soybeans, estimates the report. The growth in soybeans for food use will increase annual per capita consumption of soybeans by 53 per cent this decade, it suggests. Asia is one of the biggest markets, owing to its traditional consumption of soyfoods.
Solbar's products are used in supplements, functional foods and meat alternatives.