Food Manufacturers Find Success with Starches

ARTICLE: “Food Manufacturers Find Success with Starches” (excerpt from article)
Modified starches have been used for years in many applications, often as a thickening agent, emulsifier or stabilizer. But processors are increasing their use of clean-label starches as well as native starches, the latter especially for gluten-free products.
By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor
Food Processing

“The increased use of native starch is driven by the development and promotion of clean label, functional starches, which are physically modified to alter their rheological properties,” explains Mel Festejo, COO at American Key Food Products (, Closter, N.J. “These clean-label starches, being developed from corn, tapioca, potato and even peas, ultimately have enhanced functionalities.”

With the increasing awareness and popularity of non-GMO ingredients, suppliers are looking at non-traditional or marginal sources of starch, such as arrowroot,” explains AKFP's Festejo. “Gluten-free products are no longer just a marginal niche but have become mainstream. Some businesses that were marketing conventional wheat-based products succeeded in developing gluten-free versions and then decided to focus on the latter to satisfy both conventional and gluten-free target markets.”

Tapioca starch is also gluten-free, and is a resistant starch, with thickening properties that can help people feel full, so could be a key to controlling weight.

“Pea and tapioca starches are non-GMO ingredients,” Festejo says. “Pea starches are viable by-products in the manufacture of pea protein. Demand has gone through the roof because of its superior amino acid profile and its non-allergenic nature. And pea starch has certain characteristics that can substitute for modified starches. One big factor in pea starch's strong functionality is that it has the highest amylose/amylopectin ratios among all native starches.”

Tapioca starch is adept where relatively lower gelatinization temperatures, bland flavor, crisp textures and improved freeze-thaw functionalities are preferred, Festejo adds. “Tapioca starch is based on the cassava root, cultivated in high quantities in different regions of the world, making its supply and pricing fairly stable. AKFP has launched a premium cassava mix, blending native and functional/clean-label tapioca starch. The original application for this is Brazilian cheese bread. The mix yields the same quality and texture of the original delicacy, and can be used for gluten-free/ paleo-friendly baked products.”