No two starches are created equal, and that’s good for bakery and snack product developers seeking to differentiate their products and solve formulating problems. Food starches provide “go to” answers that address structure, moisture, shelf life, yield and even cost issues. Leanna Long, starch product line technical specialist, Texturizing Solutions, Cargill, Wayzata, MN, examines the differences between native and modified starches.

Baking & Snack: How do native starches differ in applications in baked foods and snacks? What characteristics of specific native starches most benefit these food uses? Why?

Leanna Long: True native starches (not referring to the functional clean-label starches in the market) have limited functional use in baked foods. The exception is when formulators need to provide additional desired set structure or help control volume. In snacks, native starches offer various features and functionalities depending on the base material. For example, high-amylose starch provides expansion and texture control, uniform surface characteristics, structural stability and increased crunchiness. Native waxy improves expansion potential and perhaps some improved extrusion throughput based on the overall formulation.

What benefits do modified starches bring to bakery formulations? When should a formulator consider a modified starch over a native starch?

Modified starches offer a variety of benefits to bakery formulations. In sweet goods such as cakes, muffins and cookies, they offer batter viscosity and moisture retention (both during baking and during shelf life) thus improving/extending shelf life, increasing volume/height or controlling spread, grain/crumb structure improvement/control, aeration characteristics of batters/fillings and offer freeze/thaw stability. In addition, there are more specialty starches that offer fat and egg reduction or enhance fiber content. In snack applications, modified starches can be used to provide various textures, bind, increase expansion and improve machinability.

What is the most important trend in use of starches by bakers? Why? How do you see the applications for starches changing in the next few years?

Trends really depend on the region. In the US, it appears that the most important trends are whole grain/fiber enhancement and calorie reduction (through fat or sugar removal). However, in Canada, clean-label and gluten-free are of high importance. No matter what the region, health and wellness initiatives are driving most product developers. Fighting rampant obesity (especially in children) by offering high quality, nutritious and good tasting products is a key focus, and this trend will remain mainstay.

For general bakery and snack applications, starch usage will most likely not change; however, in this health and wellness arena, suppliers will need to continue to evaluate their portfolios and develop innovative solutions (searching/reapplying existing products/modification techniques or combining starch with other functional food ingredients) to meet the growing demand.

What food starches does Cargill provide for bakery and snack use?

Technical spec sheets are available on