The institute has developed a variety of rice-based cereal products, flavored with Molasses and Chocolate. These products are produced through the extrusion cooking of milled rice (rice flour) and other ingredients, including flavor, sugar and a vitamin cocktail, added as a coating post-extrusion. The cereals have a very competitive nutritional profile, and are an extremely high source of fibre due to the inclusion of rice bran in the formulation.
Furthermore, the product is composed of more than 95% locally grown and milled rice and indeed is made from waste broken rice: 30% of all milled rice in Guyana ends up as broken, second grade rice to be utilized as feed. In addition to the cereals, the institute has developed a nutritional bar product, which rivals other Brands such as the popular Nature Valley and Kashi Brands in terms of nutritional profile. This product incorporates approximately 78% of the cereal product, and contains a variety of other local ingredients, including locally grown peanuts.
These products were developed at a laboratory scale and then scaled up to a pilot level at the IAST. Furthermore, the institute developed a branding strategy, business plan and packaging for the product, and designed a full scale (200 kg/h) commercial plant to produce the product.
The Government of Guyana allocated $100, 000, 000 to the project, and the Institute designed and built the factory building for the commercial facility to produce the product, at Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast. The IAST has engaged with the producers of the commercial production line in China, and after travelling to China to inspect the equipment from several producers, the equipment was purchased and is expected to arrive in January 2017.
In the meantime, the IAST has been producing the cereal and nutrition bars at a pilot scale, with the aim of securing markets for the product ahead of the time when the facility would be completed and needs to begin to incur operational expenditure. In addition to a number of interested parties in Jamaica and Trinidad, the IAST has also been participating in a pilot study with the National School Feeding Program designed to test the acceptance of a variety of nutritionally suitable products, by the students themselves. The acceptance level of the students to both the cereal and the bar has been an enthusiastic 100%! Therefore, the program is recommending that the cereal and the nutrition bars be one of the main products utilized by the National School Feeding Program. This will allow the facility to be able to operate one shift and allow the facility to operate at a return on capital investment of approximately 14%. With additional markets being accessed, this ROI will climb as additional shifts are employed (the facility is designed to operate for 24 hours).
The Rice Cereal Factory in its final stages of completion