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As consumers demand clean-label products, innovative native starches make it easier for manufacturers not to sacrifice quality.
Consumers are reading product labels, and the less they can understand on the ingredient deck, the less likely they are to commit to purchasing. Attributes consumers easily understand as positive, for instance, are organic and non-GMO product certifications.
“Transparency is a powerful purchasing driver for consumers, with many actively seeking out products that promote sustainability, organic and natural ingredients, as well as clean and clearer labels,” says Steven Gumeny, product manager for rice ingredients, Beneo Inc. (Parsippany, NJ). “Now, more than ever before, consumers want to make ethical and healthier choices, and with one in two consumers looking at the ingredients list on products before buying, what goes into our food and drink has never been so important.”
Modified starches, which provide a lot of the functionality product manufacturers rely on to make a palatable product, can limit how appealing a product is to a consumer because modified starches lack the clean-label clarity consumers desire. Luckily, starch suppliers continue to develop more alternatives.
“In recent years, consumers have placed such an emphasis on ‘cleaner’-sounding and more familiar ingredients, it’s forced us as an industry to come up with solutions to meet their changing needs,” explains Shiva Elayedath, senior technical services manager for Cargill (Minneapolis, MN). “In the starch world, that’s meant finding alternatives to the modified starches we relied on to provide process tolerance for so many years.”
“Anything that seems ‘added’ or ‘artificial’ raises concerns,” adds Victoria Stencel, global category marketing director for Tate & Lyle (Chicago, IL). “On the other hand, consumers do not want to change their current lifestyle and are still looking for good-tasting and convenient products. This is where clean-label starches will satisfy consumers’ demand and also deliver the desired functionality necessary to maintain the quality of their foods.”
For example, says Elayedath, label-friendly starches are in especially high demand for convenient meal solutions such as shelf-stable and frozen foods. However, consumers won’t tolerate lower functionality. “The 2020 Tate & Lyle Consumer Perception study revealed that 65% of U.S. consumers are less likely to purchase frozen meals that develop ice crystals, and 62% are less likely to purchase sauces that develop water separation either before opening or after opening and refrigerating,” explains Stencel.
Innovative new clean-label starches make it easier to provide these process tolerances. Tate & Lyle’s non-GMO tapioca starches—Claria Everlast 565, 575, and 585, for example—work well in extreme process tolerance conditions such as multiple freeze-thaw cycles. “These new products deliver superior shelf stability and much improved levels of process tolerance, mouthfeel, fluidity, and texture compared with common clean-label or native starches,” says Stencel. “They provide some unique formulation benefits such as a translucent color and soft, gel-like texture that is especially appealing in certain applications such as dairy desserts and certain convenient foods such as frozen foods.”
Cargill’s recently launched SimPure waxy corn starches also provide excellent freeze-thaw stability as well as high performance when subjected to intense heat and shear conditions. Other botanical sources provide different attributes. “We have label-friendly potato starches that work well in applications like alternative meats, where their strong water-binding properties enable firm texture,” says Elayedath. “The current portfolio includes five starch products, from a growing list of botanical sources. This diversity enables us to offer starch solutions with a range of functionalities, from creamy textures in yogurts to process tolerance in retort to juiciness in meat alternatives.”
Beneo offers a variety of native rice starches. “Gluten-free baking and meat/poultry are two of the areas with the highest demand for clean-label starch. Standard native rice starches, of both waxy and non-waxy varieties, work very well in these applications,” explains Gumeny. “For areas that require higher process tolerance, like soup, sauces, and dressings, a functional native rice starch is the best fit.”
For example, native rice starch, says Gumeny, can improve the crumb structure of gluten-free baked bread for a lighter, less-cake-like product, as well as act as a fat replacer to create an indulgent, creamy, and/or spreadable texture. Functional native starches can add texture and viscosity, endure a high-shear mixer, and have good freeze-thaw stability. Newest to Beneo’s portfolio is Remyline O AX DR, an organic waxy rice starch, which improves viscosity of organic fruit fillings and can be used for texture improvement in organic, gluten-free bars and cookies.