China is a strong market for soy proteins due to the crop's established role in the traditional diet. The market is growing by more than 10 per cent each year, compared to global growth of around 6-7 per cent, Rani ben Melech, Solbar finance director, said in an interview earlier this year.
Solbar has been active in the Asia Pacific region for nearly two decades, and in China for several years, according to marketing director Gary Brenner.
But the new sales operations, set up under the company name Solbar Ningbo Food Ltd, and a new local production facility to open next year, significantly enhances the number three soy protein supplier's presence in the emerging market.
Solbar's new plant in the Ningbo Free Trade Zone, southeast of Shanghai, is scheduled to begin production in January 2005. It will produce a range of soy protein concentrates, particularly Solbar's non-GMO IP functional soy concentrate, Solcon S-110, which is already sold in large volumes in China.
"The soy proteins market in China is one of the fastest growing worldwide. Solbar intends to expand its investments in China, with the Shanghai office serving as a base of operations," said Brenner.
Solbar, which saw revenues climb 24 per cent to NIS 459.7 million (€83.3m) in 2003 and profits increase 29 per cent to NIS 31 million (€5.62m), is also considering expansion in the US market, which accounts for half of its 'prospective' sales.