Sector News

Cargill to double tapioca syrup production amid increased US appetite for clean label sweeteners

May 7, 2022
Food & Drink

In response to robust consumer demand for label-friendly ingredients, Cargill has expanded its processing capabilities of its sweetener plant in Cikande, Indonesia, to “more than double” the company’s production capacity for organic, non-GMO tapioca syrup.

“American consumers’ appetites for products made with ingredients perceived as simple, familiar and responsibly sourced continues to grow and evolve,” remarks Dana Johnson, vice president of Sweetness Segment, Cargill Starches, Sweeteners and Texturizers North America.

“As our customers look to satiate that demand, our tapioca syrup is increasingly in the sweet spot – offering transparent sourcing, organic and non-GMO certifications, and positive consumer perceptions.”

Swathe of sweetness applications
Sourced from the cassava plant, tapioca syrup is widely used in food products such as ice cream, snack bars and confectionery products like hard candies, caramels, marshmallows and gummies.

Cargill’s portfolio includes a full range of carbohydrate profiles and dextrose equivalent levels, a line-up that provides manufacturers with maximum formulation flexibility.

The range of syrups also features organic certified lines to further enhance products’ appeal.

Cargill reveals that its tapioca plant upgrades – which include additional filling stations, blending and storage tanks, and warehouse improvements – will enable it to achieve its annual tapioca syrup production volume target of 12,000 metric tons by 2024.

The plant’s proximity to major tapioca-growing regions in Asia and the added production capacity is expected to help meet demand within the rapidly growing North American and Asian clean-label sweetener markets.

Tapping into tapioca
Next to its sweetener syrup, tapioca is also used to create thickening agents. While ingredients like modified starches have fallen out of favor, other newer – but still familiar – plant-sourced starches have gained traction.

Among this class of upstarts, data from Innova Market Insights reveals that tapioca starch is the fastest-growing.

Cargill’s latest tapioca starch ranges are the SimPure series 99600 and 99900.

“These starches are light-years ahead,” explains Erin Radermacher, technical service manager for Cargill’s hydrocolloids line. “They are much more functional than the starches of just a few years ago.”

The two groups of starches share a few common traits, such as tapioca’s well-earned reputation for neutral flavor. But their differences give Cargill’s texturizing toolbox important nuances, filling critical functional gaps.

Consider their application in the dairy space. On the one hand, there’s the cup-set Greek yogurts. “Consumers expect these yogurts to have a heavier, lightly gelled texture,” Radermacher explains.

For these spoonable options, Cargill’s SimPure 99600 series combines tender gelling properties with high process tolerance, enabling them to stand up to the pumping and shear associated with commercial yogurt production.

Then, there’s the stir-in yogurts that require a starch with more fluidity. For these, the SimPure 99900 series fits the bill. Despite their more fluid texture, these starches provide essential viscosifying properties, while maintaining process tolerance.

Cargill’s growth highway
The US$2.4 million investment in the Cikande sweetener facility is part of ongoing efforts by Cargill to enhance its ingredient portfolio and production capabilities to better support customers in Asia.

Other key investments within the company’s sweeteners and starches business include a joint venture with leading Thai modified starch producer Starpro and a US$100 million investment to build a new corn wet mill at its Pandaan, Indonesia, sweetener plant to produce more corn-based starches, sweeteners and animal feed ingredients.

In recent developments, Cargill expanded its RadiPure pea protein in India as well as Turkey, Africa and the Middle East to address plant-based food applications ballooning in popularity.

Earlier this year, the agri-food giant targeted Europe’s growing flexitarian appetite with a new range of vegan chocolate and couverture chocolates. Chocolate ExtraVeganZa is positioned to deliver a “truly indulgent sensorial experience,” using the plant-based “power ingredients” sunflower kernel powder, rice syrup and organic rice syrup.

By Benjamin Ferrer


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