Market share for cassava sourced starch set to rise

Related tags Starch

Faced with rising costs for starch ingredients sourced from
stock-squeezed wheat and corn the global food industry is on the
look out for better value alternatives. A recent report on the
modified starch market suggests that the tropical starch commodity
cassava will become more dominant.

The staple food for over 500 million people, cassava is a good commercial cash crop and a major source of food security, but it needs a competitive edge to thrive in the global starch market.

"Cassava currently has 7.5 per cent of the world starch - and this figure will rise,"​ claims a report from market analysts SK Patil and Associates.

With global wheat stocks running at 30 year lows and corn stocks at 20 year lows, efforts to design appropriate starch sources from cassava would be welcomed by food manufacturers.

But competing in the mainstream commodity starch arena - total use of starch in the world today is pitched at 48.5 million tons - is extremely difficult, particularly when it is not the commodities themselves that are the competition, but rather the functional characteristics of the value-added products.

When aiming at functional properties in starch, most commercial companies examine the characteristics of competitive starches in particular applications. This sets the target to shoot for, said Morton Satin in a recent report for the UN-backed Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Grown in tropical and subtropical areas of the world, notably Asia and southern Africa, cassava is cultivated for its starchy, tuberous roots that can be processed into tapioca, ground to produce manioc or cassava meal (Brazilian arrowroot), used as animal fodder or cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

The FAO estimates that global cassava utilisation as feed remained about 50 million tonnes in 2002, most of which is concentrated in Latin America and the Caribbean, China in Asia, Nigeria in Africa and the EU.

International trade in aggregate dry cassava products - also known as tapioca - underwent a sharp contraction in 2002, falling by 19 per cent to just under 6 million tonnes (in cassava pellet equivalent). Despite a slight increase in the volume traded in the form of flour and starch, which stood at 2.6 million tonnes (1.3 million tonnes in product weight), trade in chips and pellets fell by 33 per cent to 4.5 million tonnes.

Much of the contraction in global cassava trade was concentrated in the EU, for years the major destination of cassava shipments, which it principally imported from Thailand - the world's leading exporter - in the form of pellets for the feed industry under a low tariff rate preferential quota.

Found in a wide range of food applications - from soup to pie fillings - functionalities for starch include gel texture, flow properties, emulsion stabilising capacity, mouthfeel, lubricity, adhesiveness and crystallinity.

The market analysts estimate that total use of starch will hit 70 million tons by 2010 on annual (global) growth of 2.2 per cent. Growth in the US at 0.65 per cent, the EU at 0.2 per cent and Japan at 0.18 per cent will be very slight, while for the rest of the world the market rise is pitched at 2.25 per cent.

"Both the US and the EU will have to compete for this growth in China, India, Indonesia and South America,"​ claimed the SK Patil and Associates report.

Confirming previous findings, they add that the modified starch market is fragmented and influenced by the consumer food segment and trends, with many opportunities existing today in the areas of obesity and the satiety (bulking) effects of ingredients.

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