US food and agribusiness Continental Grain Company acquired a 16% interest in American rice bran product manufacturer RiceBran Technologies (RBT) on 14 September.

The two companies had entered into a US$2.9M agreement that would see RBT sell 2.7M of its shares to Continental, RBT said in a statement.

RBT president and CEO Robert Smith said he was pleased to have one of the oldest food and agri firms in the world make a significant investment in his company.

RBT produces a variety of value-added food, animal nutrition and speciality ingredient products derived from rice bran – including rice bran oil – for food and nutrition supplement manufacturers and retailers.

“The RBT team has made substantial progress in the past year towards its strategic objectives, from focusing on its rice bran business to significantly strengthening its financial condition and lowering operating costs,” said Ari Gendason, senior vice president of corporate investments at Continental and a member of RBT’s board of directors.

“RBT’s stabilised rice bran and proprietary ingredient products provide better-for-you ingredients that consumers are increasingly demanding from food companies and Continental has a long history of seeking out expansion opportunities in this space, making this a good strategic fit for both companies,” he added.

Continental Grain Company, now headquartered in New York, was established in Belgium in 1813 as a grain trading firm and it has since grown into one of the largest privately held companies in the world.