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Companies like Cargill and Beneo say that clean-label starches are more in demand than ever, and that it’s a market with room to grow.
Demand for clean-label starches shows no sign of slowing. At the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Las Vegas last month, two companies, Cargill (Minnetonka, MN) and Beneo (Morris Plains, NJ), spoke about how they are focusing on growing awareness for their clean-label starch lines.
Michelle Kozora, technical service manager for Cargill, told Nutritional Outlook that a major focus for the company this year is getting the word out on its clean-label line. She said that while the company has supplied starches for a long time, it’s now placing the emphasis on clean-label starches. “Cargill, I think, has been fairly quiet in this space,” Kozora said. “We’re a little behind. And really now it’s us stepping up and saying, ‘We’re here. We’re in this market.’ And we’re going to be talking about it and having a lot of discussions on it.”
To bring attention to Cargill’s clean-label starches, she said, the company is rebranding its clean-label starch range as SimPure. The line consists of native starches like those from potato and tapioca, as well as heat-moisture-treated starches that provide a bit more stability over native starches.
While native starches, in theory, should generally be cheaper than modified starches, developing native starches that actually withstand the rigors of food processing remains the challenge. According to Kozora, the biggest challenge for effective, clean-label starches continues to be managing costs-both for manufacturers and for consumers. “The end-consumer, a lot of times, doesn’t want to see that cost go up on the product just because it’s a clean-label product,” she explained. “We’re trying to help our customers manage that cost and still be able to deliver on a clean-label offering.” Dairy applications are the most costly, she said. “[In] dairy processing, you have low pH, you have pasteurization, homogenization, so you need the highest process-tolerant clean-label starch, and so the cost is going to be there.” In addition, she said, confection is an area for which there is currently no effective clean-label starch solution.
Kozora said that Cargill continues to develop blends of native starches. “A lot of people don’t use [native starches,]” she said. “They say they don’t really have good qualities to them. But when we look at the base material, we look at blending some of them, we get a lot of good functionality and we can minimize the cost hit.” As the company looks toward the future, it’s anticipating making investments in even higher-process-tolerant starches, she added.
Of the base ingredients featured in Cargill’s SimPure line, Kozora said that the ingredients showing the most promise for clean-label starches are tapioca and potato. This interest in starches like tapioca and potato, she said, stems from a trend of consumers moving away from grains and corn-based ingredients. At the show, the company highlighted its recently launched SimPure 99560 ingredient, a patent-pending gel combination of tapioca and potato starches. Kozora said that this ingredient is able to replace modified starch, guar, and xanthan gum. The combination of potato and tapioca gives the ingredient good viscosity, she said, noting that “it can survive processing in an acid- or a neutral-pH space, and it can withstand up to 10 freeze-thaw cycles,” making it ideal for use in frozen-entree applications. SimPure 99560 is available now in the U.S. and Europe.
Clean-label ingredients took center stage at Beneo as well. Remypure, Beneo’s first high-performance, clean-label rice starch line that it launched last year, is now gaining traction. Pierre Donck, regional products manager for Beneo, told Nutritional Outlook that since the product line launched last May, the company has seen increased interest with prepared-food and pet food customers, in particular.
The Remypure line was launched as an alternative to corn-based starches, but Donck said that the company is also looking to extend the product range to include clean-label rice flours in the future, which some customers see as even cleaner-label than clean-label rice starch. “[Customers] ask us for flours. They try to go towards using rice flour on the label, which they prefer to…rice starch,” he said. “That has to do with the holistic approach of people wanting to be able to recognize what’s on the label.”
CORRECTION MADE ON 9/6/17 3:20 PM PST: Story has been updated to include SimPure brand name, changed from Cargill Gel. Nutritional Outlook apologizes for the error.