Chinese demand drives BI plant expansion

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags People's republic of china Us

Dietary supplement and functional food ingredients company, BI Nutraceuticals is adding a fifth mill at it’s Suzhou manufacturing capacity to boost output by 35 percent in response to customer demand.

The company’s president and CEO, George Pontiakos told “This will provide even more traction in serving the rapidly growing Chinese market. It will allow quicker response time and improve our time-to-market capacity.”

About 20 percent of the plant’s output will be devoted to the Chinese market with 10 percent dedicated to the rest of the Asia Pacific market. The company was unable to confirm the volume of the plant’s output.

Botanical products

The plant processes up to 700 botanical ingredients including Echinacea and cinnamon, ginger root, bee pollen, mung bean and ginseng.

Pontiakos is upbeat about the prospects for growth in the Chinese health supplements market. “The Chinese market is growing significantly. From Shanghai to Guangzhou​ (south along the nation’s seaboard) the country is becoming increasingly industrializedand the ability to grow​ (home-produced) herb products is reducing​.”

When people move from rural to urban areas they bring with the awareness of the need for traditional treatments but not the means to produce them, he added. “Busy consumers haven’t the time to grind herb root products and increasingly they are looking to source their health efficiency from pills​.”

Also, after China’s devastating melamine contamination crisis, consumers value the re-assurance of knowing that their supplements are produced to exacting US safety standards, said Pontiakos. “Chinese consumers want very high quality products after the melamine scandal. The first thing they look for on the label is US pharma specs​ (specifications).

BI Nutraceuticals offers more than 200 ingredients that have been determined as safe for use in foods and beverages by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)or The Flavors and Extracts Manufacturers Association (FEMA).

In addition to boosting supply of health ingredients to the Chinese mainland the new manufacturing capacity will also support the company’s US operations. “This facility also houses a full-service quality assurance lab to test all extracts and ingredients purchased in the region to ensure they are free of contaminants prior to being shipped to the US​," said Pontiakos.

Sterilization unit

Commissioned in 2007, BI Nutraceuticals’ 75,000 square foot manufacturing facility is located in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. Eastern China. On site are milling services designed to deliver a broad range of particle sizes and a steam sterilization unit.

The company claims its Protexx HP(R) process is the industry's only species-specific, organic sterilization method which was installed at a cost of $1m.

According to a company statement: The “…. Protexx HP Steam Sterilization technology complies with recent changes to Federal regulations that prohibit ethylene oxide (EtO) and irradiation as sterilization methods for dietary ingredients and nutritional supplements.”

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