Cargill-MGPI alliance for resistant starch market

Related tags Resistant starch Carbohydrate

As food makers continue to roll out new low carb food products to
meet the rise in demand from consumers, starch supplier MGP
Ingredients has agreed to link up with agri-giant Cargill to push a
new resistant starch product aimed at this new market.

The two US firms said that Cargill will manufacture the product Fibersym HA according to a patent licensed exclusively to MGPI relating to the production of food-grade starch resistant to alpha-amylase.

Both companies will market the product under MGPI's Fibersym HA brand name and the two firms will share the profits.

"The arrangement combines MGPI's licensed patented technology with Cargill's diverse production capabilities,"​ commented Mike Trautschold, executive vice president of marketing and sales at MGPI.

Resistant starches supplied by MGPI are based on a technology invented by Kansas State University grain science researchers and subsequently patented in 1999 by the Kansas State University (K-State) Research Foundation.

K-State grain science professor Paul Seib is the inventor of the resistant starch technology, a way to modify plant-based starches to resist digestive juices and the enzyme amylase.

In March 2003, the Research Foundation licensed the technology exclusively to MGP Ingredients.

The patent covers a special modification of any starch derived from the cereal grains, roots, tubers and legumes; for example, from wheat, corn, oats, rice, potato, tapioca and mung beans. Any product that uses flour can be made with these resistant starches, including breads, buns, crackers, biscuits, chips and pastas.

MGPI claims that with more than 70 per cent dietary fibre, the resistant starches can 'greatly reduce net carbohydrate levels in foods.'

Ingredients companies looking to up margins are increasingly looking towards value-added ingredients and away from commodity ingredients. Earlier this month MGPI reported that opportunities for growth have come from the growing fad for the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet - currently with over 30 million American followers - that has upped demand for its speciality wheat protein isolates - Arise - and FiberStar 70, the firm's resistant wheat starch.

"Fibersym HA creates more options for food companies to enhance their lower net carb product development. This new resistant starch broadens Cargill's existing lines of health-promoting ingredients,"​ said R. Creager Simpson, president of Cargill Food & Pharma Specialties.

"Driven by significant interest in lower net carbohydrate food products, demand for resistant starch has risen dramatically,"​ added Trautschold. "Based on this demand, we believe Fibersym HA will fulfill some unique customer requirements particularly in products which traditionally have a corn base."

Previously known as the MGPI FiberStar brand, MGPI's line of resistant starches was recently renamed Fibersym, 'to more effectively convey the line's functional similarities to fibre rather than typical starches,' said MGPI.

Last month the Kansas-based MGPI filed a case against rival ingredients supplier Manildra Milling alleging the firm had violated MGPI's patent on certain food-grade starches when it introduced its wheat resistant starch, GemStar R70, onto the market.

"This is a very important patent to MGPI. We produce and market our MGPI FiberStar line of ingredients under it. We intend to protect our patent rights,"​ Ladd Seaberg, president of MGPI said at the time.

While the firms taken on the low carb trend, the first signs came from the US this week that the popularity of the diet may well be ebbing after a small poll on 500 Americans. According to research firm InsightExpress fewer than 10 per cent of Americans are currently on popular low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins, South Beach and The Zone.

This compares to a survey conducted in December last year by Opinion Dynamics that found 11 per cent of Americans were on low-carb diets.

More than half of all US consumers that have tried following diets that eschew carbs such as bread and sugar have given up, the survey released this week found, suggesting that interest in the popular regimens appears to be waning.

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