Super Bowl snacks bear LifeLine 'DNA'
Feb 03, 2013 (St. Joseph News-Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Chances are that the mugs of beer and bowls of cheese puffs served at today's Super Bowl parties had their start at LifeLine Foods in St. Joseph.
The company's line of 11 corn kernel-based products includes snack meal -- used as an ingredient in cheese puffs and other extruded snacks in the food industry -- and brewers' grits -- utilized by nearly every major beer maker in the fermentation process for their beverages.
"It's right in our wheelhouse," said Robin Venn, Lifeline's chief executive officer, referring to the snack and beer ingredients. "This is the culmination of our year."
For proprietary reasons, the company cannot disclose the identity of its large food-producer customers -- many of whom bear the familiar brand names of products seen in supermarkets across the nation and used throughout the year. LifeLine's relationship with breweries began four years ago, while ties with the snack food industry began 12 years ago.
"That's why the Super Bowl is big for us," said Matt Gibson, the company's vice president for sales and tech services.
LifeLine's nine other corn products are flaking grits, which has a use in creating traditional corn flake cereal; corn meal, used by bakers to make bread and breaded foods such as muffin coatings and for U.S. aid to developing nations; masa flour, for tortilla chips and other Mexican-style foods; corn germ, for food-grade corn oil and animal feeds; corn oil, which can be extracted following conversion into ethanol or can be used as a feed ingredient; ethanol, with the renewable fuel signifying a major portion of its business model; distillers grains, used primarily as an animal feed; binder, which can be used in batters and also to make charcoal briquettes; and condensed distillers solubles, used as a cattle feed supplement.
The corn processor works with more than 600 local farmer-members from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, Mr. Venn said. On average the members produce and deliver more than 24 million bushels of corn that become raw material for numerous products around the world.
Mr. Gibson said masa flour represents the fastest-growing sector of the snack food market for LifeLine.
"We're well-positioned to take advantage of that," he said.
Plans for the construction of a new mill this summer will lead to future growth, Mr. Venn said.
"We're going to be able to make more products than we are today," he said.
"We'll add more types of corn meals (and) corn flours," Mr. Gibson said. "This will be the first new (North American) corn mill -- modern, state-of-the-art -- in decades. That's going to put us at the forefront of technology."
Officials said the corn meal production is key to shipping overseas supplies through the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In early January, LifeLine received a Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program certification, Mr. Gibson said. The certification is part of the Global Food Safety Initiative, which provides for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.
The certification shows the company's food processing customers that it complies with key industry-recognized food safety standards.
Ray Scherer can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.
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