US grain-based ingredients firm MGP Ingredients has unveiled plans for the construction of a new product development technical centre and corporate office building in Atchison, Kansas, where the company has been headquartered since its founding in 1941.

The company also announced plans for US$1.9m in upgrades to a facility that it recently purchased in Onaga, Kansas, for use in manufacturing natural plant-based biopolymers.

The technical centre will be built at a projected cost of $2.5m, while the new office building is expected to be constructed at a cost of $2.2m. The company expects to break ground for both buildings in early 2006, with construction to be completed approximately one year later.

"As our business has grown, our existing R&D and office facilities have become inadequate," the company said. "More space is required to meet our needs now and for the future to support our growth objectives. The new technical centre, in particular, will be a valuable asset in helping us strengthen our capabilities as an innovator of naturally-derived ingredient solutions for the marketplace."

"Consumer desire for more healthful food alternatives continues to contribute to food processors' interest in wheat-based proteins and starches," said Michael Trautschold, executive vice president of marketing and sales. "In particular consumers are looking for higher fibre and lower fat food options, but are not willing to sacrifice taste and other sensory qualities. These key market drivers continue to fuel interest in two of MGPI's newest starch products, Fibersym and FiberRite."