KEY INTERVIEW: Sam Wright: Rice Fortification and Reconfiguration of Group’s Manufacturing are Key Future Growth Strategies
15 Dec 2015 --- Nutrition Insight spoke to CEO Sam Wright IV of fortified foods and beverages group, The Wright Group, about the company’s focus, their rinse-resistant grains and their bright future. The company has been in business since 1956 and will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year.
“The company is doing very well. The market for fortified foods and beverages continue to grow steadily and our position in those markets is solid. We have established a new headquarters in Lafayette, LA and now have three manufacturing facilities in the U.S. with our recent acquisition of Huber’s Modesto, CA granulation facility. The other plants are located in Crowley, LA and Plain City, OH. We are reconfiguring our manufacturing strategy for each facility to best utilize our custom premixing, granulation, microencapsulation and rice fortification activities.”
“For now, the company is primarily focused on our North American customers. Custom and market standard premixing and microencapsulation are our main activities, but we now have more opportunities to pursue dietary supplement business in light of Modesto’s significant granulation capacity and active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) standard quality system. Rice fortification via Wright’s proprietary coating technology is also a major initiative which will be expanded as the three facilities are reconfigured. We currently have a managing director in Mexico City to oversee our Latin American business and are also in the process of adding senior level marketing directors in Europe and Asia-Pacific to better serve our global customers and to expand our long term footprint in those markets.”
Wright says the market has been a little slow in 2015, but that they are holding their own. “The rapid aging of the population in all developed countries, the emerging middle class in the developing economies and the rise in health care costs have combined to make consumers more proactive about their health. Functional foods and beverages, and even conventional foods with a healthy positioning are outgrowing the overall industry by 5-6 times. Gluten-free, organic, non-GMO and “free from” are growing even faster. Natural colors, flavors and other natural, clean-label additives are gaining in popularity, which poses challenges to formulators who sometimes have to choose between nutritional completeness and other issues important to consumers.”
Although the food, beverage, sports nutrition and dietary supplement industries are seen as key drivers of The Wright Groups business in the medium term, Sam says that rice fortification will become more important longer term. “We have a truly unique approach to creating stable, rinse-resistant, tasty, easy-to- apply rice grains containing compendial dosages of vitamin A, iron, zinc and other critically important nutrients, regardless of cooking methods. It is great to work with a company that aims to improve the health status of all people. About 3.1 million people died from malnutrition last year. Even more children suffer loss of eyesight. We feel we can have an important impact in improving these outcomes. These are people, after all, not just statistics.”
One interesting component of the company are their rinse-resistant grains and the way in which they are developed. “This suite of proprietary technologies have been developed over the 60-year history of The Wright Group, which has a deep heritage in the rice business. My great-grandfather, Sol Wright, actually bred certain rice varieties which went on to represent almost 60% of all the rice grown worldwide at one point. It was, and is, non-GMO. He saved countless lives through this work and we seek to add to this legacy.”
Sam is enthusiastic about future plans for the group, saying; “We see the future as very bright for The Wright Group. Stay tuned for future developments!”
By Coriander Stone
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