Olen, 03 October 2013 - On 03 October Mars Olen opened the new extension of the Uncle Ben’s rice factory in the presence of Herman Van Rompuy. The development of new technologies in the R&D and Engineering Centre of Mars Olen has enabled the rice factory to increase its production capacity by 30%. Thus a confirmation of Mars Olen’s reputation as global “dry rice” centre of expertise of Mars, Inc., which stands for the highest quality, innovation and sustainable production.
Investing in unique “dry rice” technology has confirmed the Uncle Ben factory in Olen’s trailblazer position as a global centre for expertise of Mars, Inc.
Mars has been capable of investing EUR 20 million in the most innovative and superior technologies even in economically-challenging times. With the installation of this new production line and the unique rotary dryer Mars Olen confirms and ensures its reputation as global “dry rice” centre of expertise. Mars Olen has its own R&D and Engineering centre where new technologies are being developed, such as the unique milling process that significantly increases the yield and the quality of rice production. After new developments are tested in Olen’s own pilot plant, this technological expertise is also extrapolated to the “dry rice” sister factory in the United States. Moreover this investment dovetails seamlessly with the long-term vision of Mars, Inc.: the highest quality for the customer, increased efficiency and a sustainable production process through the improved use of resources
Increase of the production capacity by 30% of which 95% is earmarked for exports
Mars Olen is increasing its production capacity from 90,000 to 115,000 tonnes of rice yearly and thereby preserving its competitive position, both domestically and abroad. Mars Olen scores highly at European level and confirms its international reputation. 95% of rice production is earmarked for exports, making Mars Olen one of the bigger rice production units in Europe. The three main afzetmarkt are France, Germany and the United Kingdom, accounting for 60% of exports. Mars Olen delivers to Belgium, where the rice market is increasing in value by 5.4%, i.e. 16,350 tonnes per annum. Uncle Ben’s is still the favourite brand of Belgian consumers with a market share of 39.1% (*).
(*) source: Nielsen, MAT, week 36 2013
The highest quality and sustainable production: 215 quality checks in a CO2-neutral factory by 2020
The ultimate objective of this innovation is to keep meeting the needs of consumers for tasty, nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals. Thanks to this innovation Mars Olen can offer rice products of superior quality to consumers with the unique taste properties of Uncle Ben’s: the most robust grain of rice with a unique taste and texture. 215 quality checks ensure that the grain of rice is absolutely of the highest quality.
The expansion is a perfect fit within Mars Olen’s vision where a sustainable production is crucial. This innovative technology is an important step ahead for the Uncle Ben’s factory in Olen to meet the objective of full carbon neutrality by 2020. Over the past 10 years Mars Olen has decreased its water, gas and electricity consumption by 30% and its waste by over 60% through efficiency gains and the use of new technologies. With this new technology the rice factory is making use of natural raw materials, such as water, in a more efficient manner. The water that is used during the production process is then purified and re-introduced into nature as such.
Competitive production unit that guarantees jobs in the Kempen region
Thanks to these new investments we are increasing our flexibility to remain competitive as a rice factory in an international environment. Moreover Mars Belgium is the only employer with its own production site that is among the top 5 of the “Great Place to Work” survey of the Vlerick Business School. It should come as no surprise that Mars Olen has developed its own R&D and Engineering centre. The team of 20 employees are absolute top technicians and experts from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia.
Xavier De Buysscher, Plant Director of the Uncle Ben’s rice factory in Olen: “With these new investments in technology we are continuously taking account of the general well-being of our employees and the sustainability of the factory: we must see to it that employees can work in our factory until the age of 67 and that we, through sustainable production and healthy food, still have a planet that can also offer a high standard of living to an ever-growing population in the future.”