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Ethical and green issues impacting suppliers

Delivering innovative solutions to functional foods, beverages and supplements manufacturers remains the primary focus of most ingredients suppliers, but global concerns such as developing world nutrition and the environment are increasingly influencing the behaviour of large and small companies alike. The trend, driven by both consumers and retailers, is likely to become increasingly important for ingredients suppliers.

California-based Nutracea, a specialist in stabilised rice bran that recently signed an agreement with AMD Rice to boost its output, has been involved in programmes to ease malnutrition in Guatemala, El Salvador and most recently Malawi where it has committed 80,000 pounds of its RiSolubles rice bran, which will feed 10,000 underfed children for 10 months.

"By bringing food directly to the children, Nutracea is making a real difference — grassroots efforts of this nature are exactly what's needed here," said Malawian government MP, Nancy Tembo.

Nutracea will donate 40,000 pounds of RiSolubles while the Nevada-based organisation, The Malaria Solution Foundation, will purchase the other 40,000 pounds. However, the company must also watch its bottom line. "We are a public company and therefore answerable to our shareholders, but we think this arrangement works for all parties involved and a lot of undernourished children feel a direct benefit as a result," Nutracea senior executive Kody Newland told FF&N.

A broad nutritional payload including protein, vitamins and minerals, a high antioxidant count, as well as easy digestibility — it can be mixed with water and consumed — made RiSolubles an ideal food source, Newland said.

RiSolubles is made via a proprietary process from rice bran, of which 60,000 tonnes is typically discarded each year in the manufacture of white rice. Once discarded it quickly becomes unusable due to enzyme action, but Nutracea's technology stabilises the bran before its nutritional content decomposes. It is estimated 1.2 billion people suffering from malnutrition and hunger could be helped if a proportion of this wastage could be harnessed.

Organic and natural products manufacturer, Lifeway Foods, is demonstrating its commitment to the environment by exclusively purchasing renewable energy. Although the Illinois-based company cannot guarantee all the energy it uses is renewable, it purchases renewable energy credits to bring its renewable balance to 100 per cent, thus saving the earth's atmosphere of 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide. It will also feature a Renewable Choice Energy logo on its products.

"Renewable energy is now available anywhere in the country for individuals, companies, institutions and governments looking for an alternative to fossil-fuel energy generation," said Quayle Hodek, CEO of Renewable Choice Energy.

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