The new facility, located in Lake Charles, began production at the end of the first quarter. It includes 25,000 square feet of warehousing and will be a central distribution center for NutraCea products. Rice bran is a by-product of rice processing that is usually discarded or used as animal feed. NutraCea claims to be the only company in the world with the technology to stabilize the rice bran for human consumption, while maintaining the nutritional properties. Nutrients and costs While rice bran is rich in fiber and a host of other beneficial nutrients, one of the main attractions for manufacturers is the cost savings it can confer. For rice bran can be used as a low cost flour extender and a substitute for other, more expensive ingredients, including wheat. It is also claimed to improve product yield and maintain product quality. The sky-rocketing price of grains has led food manufacturers to look to reformulation for the long-term. The use of rice bran can also result in a non-allergenic product without soy. Additionally, meat extenders are typically used in place of meat fat, which is extracted. Newland said this makes for a more nutritious product, as rice bran has been found to be very rich in nutrients. NutraCea has filed a provisional patent for the rice bran, both in the US and internationally. New facility According to the company's chief operating officer Leo Gingras, the new rice bran facility will allow it to service both new and existing customers. "Completion of this project further expands our presence in the Southern US rice-growing region, which is an excellent shipping point for both domestic and overseas customers," he said. "We are especially proud to bring a new source of food ingredients on-line at a time of tight food supplies worldwide." Rice bran oil Earlier this year, NutraCea entered the rice bran oil market, following the purchase of South America's largest rice bran oil processing facility in February. The firm, which has so far focused its activities on stabilized rice bran, said it will now start selling the healthy rice bran oil on the global market as an alternative to other edible oils. NutraCea said the oil can be used in any applications where edible oils are used. It is thought to contain vitamin E complex, and other micronutrients Rice bran for meat Earlier this month, the company also launched a rice bran ingredient as a meat enhancer. RiBran Isolate is designed to provide cost and nutritional benefits to pulverized meat products, such as nugget-shaped patties, meatballs, meatloaf and meat and poultry patties. The product launch came just two weeks after the stabilized rice bran product was approved for use by the US Department of Agriculture.