US — Summit Agricultural Group is acquiring Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy, a US-based biorefinery, in an effort to expand its presence in North America’s wheat protein processing sector. 

Prairie Horizon is a renewable fuel corn ethanol producer with a production capacity of 40 million gallons per year. 

Summit Agriculture, however, plans to convert the facility into one of the largest wheat protein processing facilities in North America. 

To achieve this goal, the company plans to invest US$200 million in the development of the ingredients plant and is expected to be operational within two years. 

The wheat protein produced at the new facility will be used widely within baked goods, pet food, and growing aquaculture feed markets.   

Bruce Rastetter, chief executive officer of Summit Agricultural Group, noted that it was necessary to develop a wheat processing facility as the US is heavily reliant on imports. 

“With consumers demanding more transparency about the origins of the food they eat, we see a real opportunity,” Rastetter added. 

Demand for wheat protein in the US and other markets globally has been largely driven by the growing demand for bakery products and the increasing popularity of plant-based foods. 

 Wheat protein as a suitable alternative for non-animal protein among vegans coupled with nutritional benefits for lactose-intolerant consumers has been highly sought after by plant-based players, according to a recent market analysis by Markets and Markets. 

The market research firm projects that the global wheat protein market which is estimated to be valued at US$2.4 billion in 2021 will grow at a CAGR of 5.0% to reach US$3.1 billion by 2026. 

“Recognizing the rising demand for high protein ingredients and innovative feed products, coupled with renewable fuels that reduce our carbon footprint, this investment fits with what we have successfully done many times in Summit’s history,” said Bruce Rastetter, chief executive officer of Summit Agricultural Group.  

The company will further retrofit the existing corn-based ethanol plant to produce ethanol from wheat starch. 

Justin Kirchhoff, president of Summit Ag Investors noted that Prairie Horizon’s direct access to abundant local wheat production and Kansas’ business-friendly environment made it an ideal location that will offer the company “a significant advantage.” 

“Our investment will bring additional jobs to rural America, increase the domestic supply of sustainable protein ingredients, reduce reliance on imports, and further reduce our carbon footprint through this proven process,” Kirchhoff added. 

This acquisition and facility addition is part of Summit’s focus on decarbonization at the intersection of the agriculture and energy industries.  

Summit Carbon Solutions, a separate portfolio company of Summit Agricultural Group, is working to develop the world’s largest carbon capture and storage infrastructure project. 

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE