EUROPE – The sugar and starch processing company, Agrana has joined forces with US-based Amalgamated Sugar to build a US$45 million (€40 million) betaine crystallization plant in Austria.

Construction of the facility has started at Agrana’s sugar refinery in Tulln and it is expected to be completed in one year.

The investment aims to increase capacity at the Tulln site where Agrana already processes the sugar beet molasses obtained during the production of sugar into liquid betaine since 2015.

The new plant is estimated to have a production capacity of 8,500 metric tons of crystalline betaine per year.

According to Agrana, this makes Tulln the only the third manufacturing site worldwide where premium-quality, natural crystalline betaine is produced.

“We are looking forward to a successful partnership to produce premium-quality crystalline betaine.

“Diversification by means of betaine in our Sugar segment is essential to ideally exploit the full potential of sugar beets.

“This investment in a greater depth of sugar refining is therefore a top priority in the interests of safeguarding competitiveness,” said Agrana CEO, Johann Marihart and Amalgamated CEO, John McCreedy in a joint statement.

Betaine is found in sugar beet molasses and is used in food supplements and sports drinks, as well as cosmetic products and animal feeds.

In December, the two companies announced the formation of a crystallised betaine joint venture to construct what they called the world’s third high-quality crystalline betaine production site.

Agrana processes around 12,000 metric tons of sugar beets grown by Austrian farmers during a campaign starting in September and lasting for four to five months.

Last month, the company invested US$24 million (€22 million) in a new fruit preparation facility in Changzhou, China.

The new site produces 30,000 tonnes of prepared fruit a year, including strawberries, blueberries and peaches for the fruit yoghurt, bakery, ice cream and foodservice sectors.