Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients (LCI) is strengthening its position as a European supplier of grain specialties by acquiring all shares of Unicorn Grain Specialties. The acquisition of the shares, currently held by Nordian Capital Partners, will be completed within a few weeks after obtaining all required regulatory approvals.
Unicorn Grain Specialties is a Northern European specialist in unlocking natural functionalities of grains, seeds and legumes. With a focus on the area of "Understanding Texture & Enhancing Nutrition," Unicorn offers specialties to the food and feed industries. The combination of both companies will allow for further innovative grain specialties for customers involved in the markets for bakery products, snacks, breakfast cereals, meal components, pet food and animal feed.
The new group of 350 employees generates a turnover of almost 150 million euros and strengthens the company’s position in the field of natural grain specialties. It processes more than 330,000 tons of grain annually in seven production sites throughout Europe.
"Unicorn has a strong position in Benelux and Germany,” said Emmanuel Goujon, managing director of LCI. “Unicorn also has innovative products and a professional team with a lot of knowledge and experience. Both companies are geographically and technologically complementary and share their vision in the field of food safety.”
Ancient grains as pet food ingredients
The acquisition may reflect an interest in grain ingredients among pet food producers. Grains that graced the tables of Babylonian and Mayan kings now appear in dog foods and treats, as formulators continue searching for novel pet food ingredients.
For example, chia has value as a food for both pets and their owners. Long before chia was a kitschy decoration, the people of what is now Guatemala and Mexico domesticated chia for its seeds. While still popular among Mayans and others in its home region, chia seed now appears worldwide in foods for people and pets with marketers touting it as a superfood.
Those superfood claims may be justified. Ancient grain chia seeds contains 19 to 26 percent protein, according to Greg Aldrich, PhD, Kansas State University professor of grain science and Petfood Industry columnist. The seeds are gluten-free, but do contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids and insoluble fiber.
In addition to chia, malted barley, or malt, and other sprouted grains also have an ancient history and nutritious present. Malt has improved nutritional value over unsprouted barley, and is the main ingredient in beer, as the Sumerians and Babylonians were well aware. Modern day pets can get some of the same nutritional benefits from malt as King Hammurabi, without the intoxication.