Ingredients firm Cargill yesterday completed the expansion of its Polish wheat processing facility, designed to meet consumer demand across the European bloc.
The work is the latest expansion in Europe for the US-based company, which only last month opened a new wheat processing plant in the UK, and invested over $60m (€37.9m) in Russian operations in 2006.
Company spokesperson Wendy Garbutt told BakeryAndSnacks.com that the expansion was carried out because Poland is a vital European centre for Cargill, and has been since 1991.
"We now employ nearly a thousand people in ten locations in the country, and Poland is a very significant country for Cargill's food and feed operations particularly in Eastern Europe" she said.
The expansion to the factory, based in Wroclow, will allow the company to grind wheat on-site, which will then be used to produce sweeteners such as glucose and fructose for food industries such as bakery, confectionery and beverage.
The majority of these products will be exported throughout Central, Eastern and Western Europe, Garbutt said.
The company has also developed its on-line ethanol line to provide wheat gluten for the food and animal feed industries, the majority of which is exported to the US, she added.
Vital wheat gluten is an insoluble protein that has been separated from the starch and other soluble components of wheat flour. It has a range of applications for the bakery market such as breads, rolls, pizza, tortillas, frozen foods, and noodles.
The company also claimed that, as in the UK, Cargill will support local farmers by sourcing the majority of its wheat in the region.
The total expansion to the plant cost the company around $35m (€22m), although Garbutt would not disclose the capacity of the plant for "competitive reasons".
Cargill in Europe
Cargill is one of the most prolific ingredients firms across the European bloc, with processing plants in countries such as France, Ireland, Spain and the Ukraine.
Cargill's most recent investment in the EU was the creation of a UK wheat processing plant, again aimed at producing wheat glucose for sweeteners. The company officially opened the Manchester plant earlier this month, having invested £75m (€93.6m) in transforming it from a processor of imported maize to domestic wheat.
The firm was also one of the first Western corporations to attempt to penetrate the Eastern European market after the fall of communism, opening its first Russian office in the early nineties. Activities in the country now include the supply of food and agricultural commodities as well as financial market activities.
The company also processes malt, oilseed, cocoa, texturisers and flavourings for European manufacuturers.
In 2007, Cargill declared overall revenues of $88.3bn (€55.3bn), and earnings of $2.34bn (€1.48bn). However, the firm would not disclose financial information for the European region alone as it is a privately held company.