Solbar looks to China

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soy protein, Soybean

At the beginning of the year Israel-based soy proteins specialist
Solbar, announced its move into the soy proteins in China. Simon
Pitman spoke to the company about the project and discovered
that soy protein demand is a major driving force behind the
company's rapid growth.

Solbar has been active in the Asia Pacific region since 1990, where it has gradually been building on its range of soy ingredients. It started off in the Australia market and then moved further afield to Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea and Thailand. The company only entered the China market in 2000, but since then growth in sales has been rapid.

During those four years in China Solbar has witnessed the growing complexity and sophistication of the region's ingredients market, a fact that is reflected in the company's product offering in the region, and especially China.

"We have found this market to be particularly receptive to our product range of textured concentrates, and now the new functional concentrates,"​ said Gary Brenner Solbar's marketing director, indicating that the China market has been one of the main driving forces behind the company's growth from a small domestic producer to a global player.

To cope with the growing demand Solbar announced ground breaking of the soy processing plant at Ningbo Free Trade Zone, southeast of Shanghai, at the beginning of this year, with the aim of getting the plant on line by the end of this year. Although setting up business in China can often prove to be challenged, so far, construction is going according to plan.

Gary Brenner says the Ningbo authorities have had a 'highly professional' approach and have done much to help progress. He added that because of the co-operation of the authorities the project is on time and still expected to be up and running by December 2004/January 2005.

It is no accident that Solbar has chosen to enter the China market at this time. The emerging soy protein market is showing great promise, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. And nowhere is demand higher than in China, where the double digit growth of food processors means that many food ingredients and commodities are in big demand.

However, the high demand can have its downside, with sourcing of food commodities and ingredients proving increasingly difficult for many companies there. And it is Solbar's primary raw material- soy beans - that has proved to be one of the most problematic to source. Rising soy bean prices have caused headaches for many companies in the soy processing sector. This is down to increasing demand for soy-based products, especially animal feed, in the China market.

"We source non-GMO Identity Preserved soybeans, primarily from Brazil, but also from the United States. This is a difficult area and one we invest a great deal of time and money in order to perfect."

Solbar has been active in the Asia Pacific region since 1990, where it has gradually been building on its range of soy ingredients. It started off in the Australia market and then moved further afield to Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea and Thailand. The company only entered the China market in 2000, but since then growth in sales has been rapid.

During those four years in China Solbar has witnessed the growing complexity and sophistication of the region's ingredients market, a fact that is reflected in the company's product offering in the region, and especially China.

"We have found this market to be particularly receptive to our product range of textured concentrates, and now the new functional concentrates,"​ he said, indicating that the China market has been one of the main driving forces behind the company's growth from a small domestic producer to a global player.

A lot rests on the success of the Ningbo facility as it will be serving more than the demands of the China market. According to Brenner, it is set to become a regional hub for the company's supply of soy proteins, taking in all the company's other Asia Pacific markets, with the addition of Vietnam and Indonesia.

"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 when the project was first announced.

The company declined to reveal the cost of the new plant, but it has said that it will have ISO 9001-2000 certification and be built according to HACCP standards.

Related topics: Market Trends, Proteins

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