Brazilian cheese bread balls, often the size of donut holes, include a variety of cheeses depending on the region/ 

Making its way north, a traditional South American ingredient — cassava flour — brings with it established claims that give it a head start in its new market.

It’s used in Brazilian cheese bread, known as pão de queijo in its country of origin. The sweet or savory snack is made from a blend of native tapioca, or cassava, starches, which naturally contain no gluten. Its ingredients are also non-GMO and allergen-free and provide the clean label North American consumers seek today.

This type of bread traditionally uses sour tapioca starch, which requires open-air fermentation under direct sunlight. Under strict FDA and FSMA regulations, there really is no way to replicate that process in the industrial setting. To address this, Cassava S/A, a leader in tapioca/cassava production in South America, created this ready-to-use mix with pre-gelatinized tapioca starches. The final result was a mixture using food-grade native tapioca starches specially formulated for Brazilian cheese breads without the use of sour tapioca starch or modified starches.

American Key Food Products (AKFP) adapted this traditional snack to the North American market and offered it for the first time as a base for industrial use in the baking and foodservice sectors. The company introduced its Brazilian Cheese Bread Mix, made exclusively from cassava root starches, at the 2016 International Baking Industry Exposition. Mel Festejo, COO for AKFP, said the product was welcomed with rave reviews not only by North American bakers but also those from across the world.

“Our partner was able to perfect a blend that really became a near-equivalent to the traditional formulation,” Mr. Festejo said.

Brazilian cheese bread and cassava flour have already been introduced to the North American market, but never like this. Previously, exporters offered this snack in frozen dough form for bake-off. That method created several challenges, according to Mr. Festejo, and limited the creativity bakers could apply to the product. AKFP and Cassava S/A in Brazil formulated a bread base mix, leaving the mixing and new product development processes to individual bakers.

With this mix, bakers have an endless supply of opportunities to customize the product. Mr. Festejo said the formula adapts to almost any characterizing ingredient. Bakers can mix in protein inclusions like bacon or ham for a savory snack or vegetables like celery or peas for a vegetarian alternative. Contrasting the savory options are multitude of sweet inclusions such as custard or fruit fillings that can turn the bread into a dessert snack.

“It’s like giving artists a palette, and they can come up with all kinds of creations,” Mr. Festejo said, noting that bakers can also produce larger varieties that can double as slider buns or sandwich bread.

The better-for-you benefits of this cassava-based Brazilian Cheese Bread Mix are good for not only the health-minded segment of consumers but also the broader market, Mr. Festejo noted. “This is something that really appeals universally, and globalization, of course, will facilitate the spread of this,” he pointed out.

Learn more about cassava flour and this new bakery mix by visiting