A HUGE investment will see a specialist South Bank production plant treble in size and vastly increase head count, as a new ingredient that could help enhance the bread and cereal sector is being brought to market,
The £1.5-million project, part funded by a successful Regional Growth Fund bid, will allow production of a refined wheat germ to be cranked up in northern Lincolnshire.
Bettergerm, the brand, is de-fatted and stabilised, and has been developed over the past five years by New Holland Extraction.
Major bakeries and cereal producers are to be targeted with the high protein, high fibre alternative, with shelf-life boosting credentials likely to attract interest. It also offers flavouring possibilities, while cleaning up the finished product’s label by reducing the reliance on artificial additives.
North Lincolnshire Council’s economic war chest has injected £230,000 for the major works, with local companies brought in to design, build and project manage as it looks towards a May completion.
Joost de Wit is owner and director of the New Holland company, having bought it out of receivership 10 years ago.
One of two brothers at the helm of Dutch global producer De Wit Speciality Oils, he said: “First and foremost we want to work on a new product. Wheat germ meal, de-fatted, is our wonder product that we aim to sell into the bakery industry. We need more working area, more storage and more offices. We need marketing and sales, and at the moment we don’t have that.”
Until now the plant has been used to manufacture for third parties, extracting niche oils from seeds including borage, evening primrose, blackcurrant, echium, hemp and rosehip.
The new product focuses on what remains after extraction, rather than the extracted product, with the by-product until this investment not at food grade standard levels, with initial work having to be finished elsewhere.
In the coming months the team of 16 will be bolstered by another 12, and if it goes well it may not stop there. “At the moment we are producing about 40-tonnes a month,” said Mr de Wit. “We are searching for the flexibility and if there are more requirements for our products we will try to secure that market. Where the limit will be we don’t know yet. The limit could be the site, or we could start the investment programme again.”
Mr de Wit was on hand to start the construction phase himself, taking to the controls of a digger before an assembled party of those involved.
Colin Watkinson, plant manager, said: “This is a huge positive for the future of the company. We are a specialised oil extraction company but we are using the ability of the site to produce other co-products.
“This is giving us a unique opportunity to maximise our potential. The product we will be making, we will be the only place in the world. A lot of companies want traceability assured. We can offer 100 per cent British, and that still carries a lot of weight in the markets we work in.”
The company contracts farmers in the UK, including Lincolnshire.
Emma Brown, commercial manager, said: “Further added value is the fact it is 100 per cent natural, you can change bread, reposition it, or add it to anything grain-based and change the taste or flavour.
“The trend at the moment is that everyone is going down the healthy route and we are there for that.”
Councillor Liz Redfern, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, the Regional Growth Fund administrator, said: “It is absolutely great what is going on here. Whether it is rural or urban, we don’t mind, we want to drive job creation with this fund. We want people to do this, we are getting the interest in people wanting to relocate here or expand.”
Grimsby and Scunthorpe-based CR Parrott Consultants Ltd is providing full professional services, with managing director Chris Parrott describing it as a very interesting project to take forward, with the business physically building on a niche product.
North Killingholme-based building and civil engineering firm Cube 3 Construction has secured the works.
Dave Coombe, director, said: “We are very pleased to be awarded the contract to build this new facility at New Holland and to continue our relationship with New Holland Extraction following the facility’s recent production extension which we completed last year.
“This latest contract will see continuity for our turnover through into 2015, with future orders currently totalling over £6- million. This not only gives job security to our existing employees but will also see further employment opportunities arising within the company.”