Austrian food company Agrana invests US$29m in expanding starch production capacity

AUSTRIA – International food ingredients supplier Agrana has announced a €25 million (about US$29m) investment in additional capacity at its three starch factories in Austria.  

According to a statement from the company, €12 million will be used in expanding capacity at the Agrana plant in Gmünd which is Austria’s only potato starch factory. 

The investment involves building a spraying tower – a drying plant for infant formula, maltodextrin, and dried glucose syrup – in addition to installing a drum-drying plant for dehydrated potato products. 

Expansion works in Gmünd are estimated to last around 130 days, with completion in early January. Approximately 250,000 metric tons of potatoes have been contracted for use by the facility this coming season. 

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€13 million will on the other hand be invested at Agrana’s Aschach site to expand its capacity for processing special corn varieties.  

The site currently processes a total of around 500,000 metric tons of corn annually but the tonnage is expected to increase with a gradual introduction of more special corn varieties such as waxy and organic corn. 

Expansion works for wet corn facilities in Aschach/Donau and Pischelsdorf are forecast to last until the middle of December. 

Agrana pursues efficiency in drying technology

Meanwhile, AGRANA  is participating in a €1.2m research project to develop advanced drying technology that will help reduce amount of energy required to dehydrate food products. 

As part of the “Enhanced Drying” (EDDY) project of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund, an innovative infrared sensor is being developed for spray drying in Gmünd, which directly detects the moisture in the product.  

In contrast to conventional drying processes with air humidity measuring devices, infrared measurement optimizes the use of energy and has the potential to make a contribution to saving fossil carbon emissions of approx. 50% in drying processes. 

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Agrana which has a goal of achieving climate-neutral production by 2040 has revealed plans to start using the new drying technology at the Gmünd site from 2024. 

“Agrana, as an energy-intensive refiner of agricultural raw materials, is consistently pursuing its goal of climate-neutral production by 2040 with a variety of measures,” Agrana CTO Dr. Norbert Harringer said. 

“ The sensor-controlled drying at the Gmünd location is a pilot project which, if successful and implemented at other locations, will make a contribution to our climate strategy.” 

Earlier in June, Agrana entered into a new long-term partnership with Tate & Lyle which is keen on expanding its operations in the fruit preparation market in Brazil. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Tate & Lyle Brazil will transfer the production of fruit preparations from its facility in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, to Agrana Fruit’s facility in Cabreúva, São Paulo. 

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