Probiotics get the TV commercials. Prebiotics is what a new Weiser company is banking on.
The newly established Intrinsic Organics started construction in early May in the industrial area south of Weiser on a $5.5 million, 9,000-square-foot production facility for inulin.
Inulin is a prebiotic additive to many foods. Intrinsic Organics derives inulin from a proprietary non-GMO Jerusalem artichoke grown at four farms in Washington and Canyon counties.
Intrinsic Organics has become adept at explaining their product, which is little-known. Prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in the intestines. Prebiotics are a non-digestable fiber that provide food for probiotics, which are good bacteria.
“Prebiotics are the fertilizer for probiotics,” said Devin Limb, vice president of marketing at Intrinsic Organics.
He added that more than 50 million pounds of inulin are imported each year.
“The prebiotic market is growing exponentially,” he said. “We’re the first domestic producer of organic inulin.”
Intrinsic Organics is starting to build a client base with food manufacturers. Its inulin for now will be only a food additive, not available on store shelves, Limb said.
Intrinsic Organics licenses the SunSpuds Jerusalem artichokes specifically created for the company. The SunSpuds was developed by the University of Idaho and University of Maine.
CEO Sot Chimonas expects the Weiser production facility to have product ready in powder and syrup form in December. He anticipates 20 employees in the first year and as many as 52 in five years.
Chimonas is currently using 5 acres of the 32 acres he bought in Weiser, and he intends to add more buildings. The initial 9,000-square-foot plant will have a capacity to produce 1.25 million pounds of inulin a year, he said.
Straightline Architects of Boise is the architect and Industrial Builders of Caldwell is the general contractor.
Intrinsic Organics is the 37th company to receive a Tax Reimbursement Incentive from the Idaho Department of Commerce. The TRI was launched in 2014 to attract new or expanding companies that create at least 20 full-time jobs in rural areas (50 jobs in urban areas) with an average wage at least the county average.
Commerce awarded Intrinsic Organics an 18 percent tax credit on the company’s income, payroll and sales taxes for six years. The incentive is expected to save Intrinsic $1.25 million, for which the state anticipates $8.5 million in new total state revenue.
“Intrinsic Organics not only helps strengthen the already robust Idaho food manufacturing cluster, but it will be the first major U.S. producer of organic inulin – an important ingredient for a variety of manufacturers in Idaho and worldwide,” Idaho Commerce spokeswoman Megan Hill said. “Currently, companies in the prepared foods industry purchase inulin manufactured from chicory root (that) is imported from Europe where it is not grown organically. This project will tap into a resource not yet available in the U.S.”
Washington County and Snake River Economic Development Alliance recruited Intrinsic Organics to Weiser.
“Washington County Commissioner Tom Anderson had read that a nearby county had not been receptive to the company,” said Kit Kamo, SREDA’s executive director. “He said that a value-added agricultural business like that would be a great fit for our county.”
Prebiotics feed probiotics, which help with digestion
Prebiotics are the lesser-known companion to probiotics, “good bacteria” that help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria. Prebiotics are non-digestible, fibrous carbohydrates that serve as food for probiotics, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Probiotics are often consumed in fermented dairy products such as yogurt. Health food consumers have been aware of lactobacillus acidophilus, the most common form of probiotic.
Prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes, and both probiotics and prebiotics can be found on the shelves of stores.
Probiotic and prebiotic use in the U.S. quadrupled from 2007 to 2012 to 4 million users, according to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey done by National Center for Health Statistics.
Global Market Insights, an Ocean View, Del., global market research and management consulting company, measured the world probiotics market at $36.6 billion in 2015 with an estimated increase to $64 billion by 2023.
“You don’t necessarily need probiotics to be healthy,” Mayo Clinic registered dietician nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky wrote on the Mayo website. She said although more research is needed, there’s evidence that probiotics may help with various afflictions such as diarrhea, yeast infections and urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and colds and flu.