Innovation plays an integral role in the European starch industry which helps us to deliver better products, protect our employees and the environment, create new business opportunities and ensure cost-effectiveness.
We seek to drive innovation with a sustained commitment to R&D. Researchers at our plants work at the intersection of technology and industry to enhance our operations by improving performance in productivity, reliability and efficiency and by seeking to address new challenges facing the starch industry.
Our approach to research and innovation does not stop when starch is developed into food or non-food applications. Our teams of scientists and researchers are constantly looking beyond the boundaries of traditional starch production to develop new applications. This information is relayed to our teams on the ground so that we can both improve existing products and develop new ones, so that innovative, effective solutions remain a core element of our business.
As a major industry and user of European agricultural raw materials (primarily wheat, potatoes and maize), the European starch industry seeks to secure a stable supply of high quality EU agricultural raw materials at a reasonable price.
In the global starch market starch is produced at a lower cost in leading starch producing markets such as the US, China and Thailand. The structure of the European starch industry is determined, not only by economic factors, but also by factors such as regulatory restrictions and stringent safety levels resulting in reduced economies of scales, and higher energy and labour costs. Starch Europe strives to protect the future of the European starch industry in a fair competitive environment whilst addressing the challenges of an increasingly competitive market.
With 40% of EU starch used to manufacture non-food applications, starch has for centuries been a major contributor to the bio-economy. Given its renewable and biodegradable form, and as a viable alternative to fossil-fuel components, the continued production of bio-based products in Europe is essential for the development of a sustainable economy based on renewable materials in Europe.
We seek to minimize the environmental impact at our plants while at the same time trying to ensure that our manufacturing processes are environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. As one of the first agri-food sectors to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study for all our products, this not only demonstrates our commitment to ensuring a reliable supply of starch-based ingredients but also reinforces our commitment to strengthening our environmental standards.
In order to maintain its reputation for producing high quality, safe food and feed, the EU is renowned for implementing some of the world’s strictest food and feed law. This often leads to higher production costs for European starch producers compared to our international competitors. We closely monitor the development of new laws and seek to ensure that the specific interests of European starch producers are considered.
Nutrition and health issues
Starch is the most common digestible carbohydrate in the human diet. Digestible carbohydrates are the most important fuel for our brains and provide our bodies with the energy our organs need to function. In order to function correctly, our body needs carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, minerals and vitamins. In terms of energy intake, EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, recommends that 45-60% of our daily energy intake comes from carbohydrates (4 kilocalories of energy per gram).
The maintenance of a stable body weight requires the right balance between the total amount of energy consumed and the total amount of energy expended. However, increases in body weight occur when energy intake exceeds expenditure. Carbohydrates, like starch, form an essential part of the human diet; however, if they are consumed in excess, this can lead to problems of obesity.
Starch Europe fully supports the EU’s public health action programme, which focuses on lifestyle determinants such as adequate nutrition and physical activity. We also seek to communicate to our stakeholders on the nutritional and health impact of starch products.