The starch specialist acquired five starch and sweetener plants from Tate & Lyle in 2007.
The new centre and tower come as part of a €160m investment earmarked after the acquisition and to be spent over a three year period. The aim, it says, is to adapt its facilities to cater to new market and client needs.
As well as remixing its portfolio to products that are less affected by the new sugar regime, it is also looking to unlock new ingredients from agricultural products – and in particular cereal products.
Syral’s major shareholders include the Tereos Group and other French cereal cooperatives. Between them, they collect more that 15m tonnes of grain – 25 per cent of all the grain used in France.
Claiming third place in the European starch and glucose-based product market – just behind Cargill and Roquette and with a 30 per cent share in the starch-based sweetener market – Syral’s portfolio is made up of native starches, modified starches, sweeteners, glucose syrups, maltodextrins and dehydrated glucoses, polyols, biofuels and green chemistry, and vegetable proteins and co-products.
On the quality side, it says it is committed to meeting specifications of the pharmaceutical industry, and is anticipating future regulatory requirements on preventing contamination from pesticides and mycotoxins.
At its new applied research centre, Syral will design products for its clients – and work alongside them.
"The raison d’être of the applied research centre goes beyond producing prototypes and validating the functions of Syral products in finished products”, said Anne Wagner, vice-president of innovation. “We provide our clients with tools that are responsive and flexible. Our partners can use our pilot equipment and laboratories to develop innovative new sweetening formulations, or work on existing ones.”
She said that nutrition and health claims have been a major area of research for the last two years, and remain one of the priorities.
As for the spray drying tower, this has been gradually brought into production over the last six months. The workshop allows it to increase dried glucose and maltodextrine production, and cater to growing demand for maltodextrine from the personal care and infant formula industries.
With TetraPak, Syral has developed a new spray drying technology, to which Syral has exclusive rights.
Other recent developments at Syral include a new complex protein manufacturing facility in Nesle, which will become operational this summer.
At Saragossa the starch factory is to cease production of isoglucose (high fructose corn syrup) in October, and diversify into different products.
Isoglucose is included under the European sugar regime, which sets out strict quotas for producers and countries. Similarly, from September Syral’s plant in Greenwich, UK, will cease production, since its products are “amongst those most affected by sugar regime reform”.
On the other hand, the company has invested in two distilleries powered by starch and corn solubles – in Aslast, producing bioethanol for Belgium, and in Saluzzo, producing high grade alcohol from grain.