NutraCea, the stabilised rice bran research and technology, has expanded its joint venture with Pronaca, the largest commercial food producer in the country of Ecuador.

In a statement, NutraCea said that it had broadened the scope of its letter of intent signed with Pronaca on 28 October, 2005. The Supply and Marketing Agreement now calls for a five year strategic alliance whereby Pronaca and NutraCea will commit the capital requirements and manpower necessary to develop the human and animal markets for NutraCea’s products, subject to the outcome of a six month product development and introduction phase.

“We believe this is an extraordinary opportunity for both Pronaca and NutraCea to use their respective resources to develop value-added products that provide high quality nutritious foods from our rice bran supply using NutraCea’s proprietary stabilization technology for the animal and human markets, said Luis Bakker Jr., CEO of Pronaca.

The parties have agreed on their desire to participate in various activities, including marketing and selling stabilized rice bran and value added derivatives for the pet food and human markets in Ecuador. In addition they intend to develop specific rice-based products for government-sponsored feeding programs for school age children, social programs for pregnant and lactating mothers, the elderly population and many other products for the commercial markets.

Specifically, the parties will jointly bid for one or more government-sponsored feeding programmes, including the Programa Mundial de Alimentos, which distributes in excess of 1.6 million school meals a day, for approximately 240 days per year to school age children and other government-funded social programs.

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In the Supply and Marketing Agreement, Pronaca has agreed that as products are developed, which both parties agree to launch in Ecuador, Pronaca will initially purchase those necessary raw materials from NutraCea to satisfy sales. As demand for the product increases, the parties agree to explore the economical viability of the construction of a stabilised rice bran production facility in Ecuador, whereby Pronaca will be responsible for providing half of the construction costs.

“We are committed to developing the animal and human markets for a broad range of products and we anticipate a very successful long term relationship between our two companies,” said Patricio Calderon, manager of rice business for Pronaca.