Prepared Foods talks about starch technologies with Mike O’Riordan, Ingredion’s vice president, Starch-Based Texturizers Platform.

Prepared Foods: Prepared Foods’ October 2019 issue has an extensive feature on gums, fibers and starches!  How would you describe similarities and differences between tapioca starches and corn starches?  

Mike O’Riordan: Both starches are versatile, cost-effective, easy-to-use ingredients that provide viscosity and texture in a wide range of food and beverage formulations. Tapioca starch differs from corn in that it provides a more transparent, slightly glossy appearance in products when cooked. Tapioca starches also exhibit a more neutral flavor profile than other starches and do not impart the off-flavors typically associated with alternative ingredient sources. 

PF: Thanks. So, let’s concentrate here on tapioca starch. How would selecting tapioca starch impact formulation costs?

O’Riordan: Tapioca starches can offer formulators greater cost security and lower volatility than other ingredients because they are less exposed to raw material price fluctuations. 

For instance, rising milk prices caused one dairy manufacturer to seek out a cost reduction solution for a pudding they were developing. By replacing some of the dairy ingredients in the pudding with tapioca starches, the manufacturer was able to reduce the fat level of the product by 55%. This allowed the company to cut development costs while maintaining the product’s great taste and texture. 

PF: Thanks for addressing that point. What are some of the other benefits of tapioca starches in food and beverage formulations?

O’Riordan: Tapioca starches have an appealing sensory profile and can be used in a variety of food and beverage applications. 

These texturizers are recognized for their ability to enhance mouthfeel and boost flavors. Tapioca’s neutral flavor requires less masking than other starches and it enables formulators to create a one-of-a-kind eating or drinking experience—versus compensating for undesirable tastes. Less flavor masking also enables product developers to reduce the amount of certain ingredients in a formulation. Tapioca also requires less cooking and processing time than other types of starches. 

PF: As you’re aware, clean label trends are key. What on-trend consumer claims can tapioca starches help food manufacturers address?

O’Riordan: Great question! Tapioca starches can enable food and beverage manufacturers to formulate products that support front-of-package claims with strong consumer appeal. Specifically, the tapioca starches:

* do not contain gluten;

* are sourced from plants, not grains;

* offer consumers non-GMO assurance, with select Non-GMO Project Verified options available; and

* meet kosher, halal and vegan requirements.

PF: We recognize that not all food and beverage are equal. In which applications might tapioca starches provide the best consumer experience?

O’Riordan: That’s a good follow-up. Tapioca starches are well suited for a variety of food preparations and are particularly ideal for dairy formulations (yogurts, puddings, other dairy desserts, etc.) as well as conventional and gluten-free baked goods and snacks (crackers, vegetable-based snacks, etc.). 

In dairy formulations, the neutral flavor and textural attributes of tapioca starches help developers enhance mouthfeel without compromising taste or texture, enabling them to create products with rich, indulgent textures and a true dairy flavor.

In snack applications, the starches deliver a crunchy yet flexible texture that is very effective in reducing friability or breakage. In gluten-free baked goods, tapioca starches also have a positive impact on dough rheology, improving the structure and pliability of low-moisture doughs.  

PF: Ok. So here’s a commercial question. What should food and beverage manufacturers look for when selecting a tapioca starch supplier? How is Ingredion meeting these needs for customers?

O’Riordan: There are many factors to consider when selecting a tapioca starch supplier. First and foremost, it’s important to consider consistency of supply, breadth of manufacturing operations and sustainable practices.

Ingredion has more than 40 years of experience growing and harvesting tapioca and manufacturing tapioca-based ingredients. Today the company operates multiple manufacturing plants in the heartlands of tapioca, Thailand and Brazil. By manufacturing local to the source, Ingredion is able to manage the entire supply chain, from farm to customer, enabling the company to provide its customers with a consistent, reliable supply with unparalleled traceability.

For more information on Ingredion’s tapioca starches, visit https:/