Paving the way with clean label starches and more sustainable processes – article

With growing demand for clean products, a new line of corn-based starches raise the bar with improved sustainability and next-level functionality and performance.

May 21, 2024

6 Min Read
Paving the way with clean label starches and more sustainable processes

Modern consumers are incredibly discerning about their food choices, knowing that their decisions have wide-ranging impacts. First and foremost, they understand that their diet directly influences their own health and well-being. Consumers also increasingly realize that different foods, depending on their makeup and how they are produced, can have varying impacts on our planet.

According to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2023 Consumer Climate Change Perceptions and Purchase Impacts report, 75% of U.S. adults now say they are concerned about climate change — and 37% are very concerned.

Most of these consumers, IFIC finds, worry specifically about the food industry’s hefty carbon footprint — and for good reason. Research shows that food production is responsible for more than one-third of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, the principal cause of climate change.

This concern is motivating many shoppers to seek out environmentally friendly and sustainably produced foods. In IFIC’s survey, 57% of consumers said that the climate factors into their purchasing decisions at least some of the time. And according to recent research from Mintel, 69% of U.S. consumers acknowledge that buying sustainable foods makes them feel good.

But how can shoppers tell whether a product both meets their health goals and addresses sustainable values? It all comes back to the ingredients within a food, along with the level of clarity around those ingredients.

 

“We know that caring for the planet is a part of the transparency trend,” said Marina Di Migueli, global marketing director of texturants for global ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle, a pioneer in clean-label, sustainable ingredients. “Consumers are increasingly aware of this topic. And today, sustainability is a key challenge for the food industry — one that needs to be tackled alongside the whole supply chain, including ingredient manufacturers.”

Consumers demand clean labels

To guide their purchasing decisions, consumers rely heavily on product labels, particularly the ingredient lists, for transparent information. Tate & Lyle’s proprietary research reveals that 82% of global consumers read product labels at least some of the time. In the U.S. specifically, 40% of consumers say they always read ingredient lists on labels.

 

While consumers may not always use the term "clean label,” this is precisely what they seek. A clean or transparent label enables shoppers to understand the ingredients within a food, including how they and the finished product are produced.

But authenticity is also important. Therefore, any brand aiming to attract clean-label consumers must have a solid understanding of its entire supply chain. To be truly transparent and honest with consumers, it’s pivotal to partner with trustworthy suppliers who can guarantee their ingredients are clean and ecologically sustainable.

Solving the starch conundrum

From sauces to yogurts and baked goods, because traditional starches play a pivotal role in taste and texture –– and overall eating experience in a broad range of food products –– one of the toughest challenges in clean-label formulating is replacing conventional starches with clean-label alternatives. Most product formulators and brand owners already know that nailing a product’s functional and sensory characteristics is an intricate endeavor. Behind a recipe’s star ingredients, numerous supporting-cast ingredients come together to produce the flavor, texture, consistency, aroma, appearance, shelf life and overall high quality that consumers expect and desire. A salad dressing’s creaminess, for example, is made possible by starch, as is a soup’s thickness.  

Despite their exceptional functionality, modified starches now may not align with consumers’ desire for ingredients they deem to be clean.

Tate & Lyle identified this challenge several years back and innovated a solution: CLARIA® Functional Clean-Label Starches. This groundbreaking line of corn- and tapioca-based starches delivers the same performance as modified starches but with clean, simple labeling.

“To offer tolerance and shelf stability, starches are a key ingredient, but in the past you would need to resort to a modified starch to get this level of functionality,” said Coralie Falize, global innovation director of texturants at Tate & Lyle. “Today, you have functional clean-label starches, which give you the best of two worlds: high functionality and clean labeling.”

Next-gen clean label starches

The company is now elevating this to another level with a newly developed corn-based CLARIA G® line, which offers the same functionality and superb performance as all CLARIA Functional Clean-Label Starches but with less environmental impact. CLARIA G uses a novel production process that slashes its carbon footprint by 35% and its water usage by 34%.

By choosing CLARIA G Functional Clean-Label Starches, formulators can expect a neutral flavor profile, clear color and excellent processing tolerance, much like the original CLARIA products. This new offering also enables the same simple, consumer-approved labeling, as “corn starch” is acceptable in the U.S. Yet the improved sustainability of CLARIA G gives formulators and brand owners another differentiator for their products.

 

Tate & Lyle offers three versions of CLARIA G to suit various food applications and their accompanying requirements. CLARIA G® Essential Functional Clean-Label Starch is designed for foods that necessitate mildly challenging processing, such as foodservice items, ready-to-eat meals and consumer at-home preparations. CLARIA G® Plus Functional Clean-Label Starch is intended for foods that undergo mildly challenging processing conditions such as neutral to high acidity, high-shear mixes, high-temperature/short-time (HTST) cooking or long cook times.

Finally, CLARIA G® Elite Functional Clean-Label Starch is geared toward foods requiring extremely challenging processing tactics, including ultra-high temperature treatment, HTST or high-pressure homogenization. CLARIA G Elite promises exceptional process tolerance throughout any of these practices.

All three CLARIA G starches are already sampling and will launch in North America in early 2025, offering formulators and brand owners a premium, highly functional, more sustainable solution.

“Our efforts in this direction are clear in our innovations — with CLARIA G’s new process as proof of our commitment around improving the sustainability of our processes,” Falize said.   “We are constantly mapping what customers and consumers need in this space, such as sustainable practices and organic foods, and answering through our innovation pipeline — with more additions to the range coming soon.”

Claria G starches are part of Tate & Lyle’s broader line of CLARIA Functional Clean-Label Starches. In the U.S., the CLARIA line possesses corn and tapioca-based starches, listed on ingredient lists as “corn starch,” (corn-based CLARIA), “tapioca starch” or “tapioca flour” (tapioca-based CLARIA), which consumers can easily recognize and understand. Plus, every product in the portfolio is plant based and non-GMO.

From a functionality standpoint, the CLARIA starches outperform other clean-label starches by using CLARIA technology, a proprietary technology that has been shown to provide improved sensory attributes (neutral color) vs. other functional clean-label starches. CLARIA starches are clear in color and have a neutral taste profile to thicken products effectively and ensure consistent texture and appearance throughout manufacturing and distribution.

To suit a wide variety of food applications, processing specs and shelf-stability requirements, the CLARIA portfolio includes more than a dozen options. But no matter which solution they choose, CLARIA Functional Clean-Label Starches give formulators and brand owners confidence that they are creating foods that consumers enjoy.

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