(Adds project details, comment from company exec)
SAO PAULO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Cargill Inc will invest 550 million reais ($140.59 million) to build a new plant in Brazil in 2019 to produce the food ingredient pectin, the company said on Thursday.
Cargill said it plans to export future pectin production in Brazil to several of its markets abroad. The ingredient, which is made from citric fruits, is a texturizer used in jams, beverages, dairy products and confectionery.
Global commodities traders and food processors such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland Co are looking to diversify to products with higher value, as profit margins on trading of basic foodstuffs decrease with higher competition.
Companies are also looking to increase production of natural ingredients, paying heed to rising consumer demand for such products.
"The pectin market has seen strong growth for several years, primarily driven by the acid dairy drink market, as well as the growing global consumer demand for label-friendly ingredients," Bruce McGoogan, Cargill's strategy and innovation head for starches, sweeteners and texturizers business, said in a statement.
He said the decision to install the plant in Brazil was made considering the abundant supplies of citrus fruit in the country. Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of orange juice.
$1 = 3.9122 reais Reporting by Roberto Samora and Marcelo Teixeira Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas