What is tapioca?
Tapioca (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is known by various names in different regions of the world. It is called “tapioca” in Asia, “manioc” in Africa and “manioca”, “yucca” and “mandioca” in South America. In Europe and the USA, “cassava” is the term usually applied to the roots, and “tapioca” is the name given to the starch and other
processed products. The plant looks like a small tree, some ten feet tall. The starch is extracted from the tuberous roots, which are typically 3 inches in diameter and a foot long. Thailand as I know are one of the country in South East asia planting lots of tapioca. From my recent visits to Thailand, I have seen many hecters of tapiova planting along the road side to Pataya from Bangkok and to Chantaburi. Todays article I would like to write about tapioca for starch production and the potential og tapioca starch for the industry.
Why is Thai tapioca starch preferred?
Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of tapioca starch and starch derivatives, with annual production of over 2 million tons of starch. The attributes of Thai tapioca starch include:
• Year round supply of raw material
Two crops of tapioca can be grown each year, with almost complete flexibility of both planting and harvest schedule. Roots are harvested continuously throughout the
year. Approximately one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of land are devoted to tapioca, producing approximately 20 million tons of roots per annum.
Tapioca is one of the most important cash crops of Thailand.
• New improved tapioca varieties are GMO free
Increasing market demand for tapioca based products has spurred the development of improved varieties with the main purpose of improving economic return.
New varieties are selected primarily for improved starch yield. Only the conventional breeding technique of hybridization is used to achieve this goal. No genetic modification techniques are used, and thus Thai tapioca starch and products are completely GMO free.
• Best raw material for starch production
With improved varieties and agricultural practice, up to 20 tons of high-quality roots can be produced per hectare. Unlike other starch sources, such as corn, rice and
wheat, tapioca roots contain a high starch content and a very low quantity of impurities.
Tapioca is, therefore, an excellent material for starch production with respect to it’s availability, raw material cost, and ease of starch extraction.
• Well-developed starch production technology
The Thai tapioca starch industry has over fifty years experience resulting in highly developed processing technology being used by most Thai manufacturers. The
associated development of management systems assures a high production capacity of a high quality product.
• Remarkable characteristics of native Thai tapioca starch
The most important characteristics of native Thai tapioca starch include:
Color: Tapioca starch is white in color.
Odorless: The absence of unpleasant odor in tapioca starch allows this product to be used in delicately scented applications, such as many food and cosmetics.
Bland Flavor: The absence of taste, and after-taste (corn for example), makes tapioca a better choice for delicately flavored products, such as puddings, custards, and
Paste clarity: Tapioca starch, when cooked, provides a clear paste that is suitable for combining with coloring agents. The clarity is also important in the sizing of fine paper.
Stickiness: With a high ratio of amylopectin to amylose (80:20), native tapioca starch provides a high peak viscosity that is very useful in many applications.
High freeze-thaw stability: Paste made from native tapioca starch exhibits relatively low retro-gradation, so it can prevent moisture loss in freeze-thaw cycling. This characteristic can be further improved by modification.
• Best value to the user In summary, the high quality of raw materials, improved starch processing technology, assured quality standard of products and unique starch characteristics make Thai tapioca starch price competitive and the best overall value to the end user.
Specifications of Thai Tapioca Starch certified by the Thai Tapioca Flour Industry Trade Association, Ministry of Commerce.
Moisture [% maximum] 13
Starch [% minimum by Polarimetric method] 85
pH 5.0 to 7.0
maximum ] 0.20
Ash [% maximum] 0.20
Viscosity [minimum by Brabender viscograph using 6%
starch, dry basis, with 700 cmg cartridge box]
550 Revision 02 Date Nov 26, 01 Page 4
How is Thai tapioca starch used?
Thai tapioca starch is widely used in food and non-food applications. Sometimes
it is used in the native form. A much wider variety of characteristics are available from modified tapioca starches, tailor-made for individual applications. Thai tapioca starch, both native and modified, is preferred by many industries including:
Native tapioca starch is widely applied in food recipes such as bakery products. It is also used to produce extruded snacks and tapioca pearls. Modified starch, or starch
derivatives, have been applied as thickening, binding, texturizing and stabilizing agents. Uses as fillers, sweeteners, flavor carriers and fat replacement in many food products
include canned food, frozen food, dry mixes, baked goods, snacks, dressings, soups, sauces, dairy products, meat and fish products and infant food.
Modified tapioca starch is used as a colloid stabilizer in beverages that include solid constituents. Tapioca starch-based sweeteners can be produced with considerably
higher yields than sugar and are used in beverages as a sugar replacement. In combination with other sweetener components, it can usually contribute to satisfying the customer’s requirement. High dextrose equivalent syrups of tapioca-based hydrolysate are also good sources of easily fermentable sugars for brewery applications.
Confectionery Native tapioca and diverse types of modified tapioca starch are used in confectionery for different purposes such as gelling, thickening, texture stabilizing, foam ,strengthening, crystallization inhibition, adhesion, film forming, and glazing. Low viscosity tapioca starches are widely used in gelled confectioneries such as jellies and gums. The most often used one is acid-thinned starch due to its high retro-gradation and gel formation characteristics, which are enhanced by the presence of sugars. Powdered starches are used as mould release agents when casting confectioneries. Starch-based
polyols make the manufacture of sugar-free chewing gum possible.
ChemicalsTapioca starch-based syrups are obtained economically by acid and/or enzyme processes and used as feedstock to make various chemicals, including monosodium, glutamate, amino acids, organic acids, alcohols, ketones, vitamins and antibiotics. Production techniques include chemical reaction, fermentation and other biotechnological processes.
Adhesives and GlueTapioca starch-based dextrins are excellent adhesives and used in many applications including corrugated board, paper-bags, laminated board, gummed paper, tapes, labels, stamps and envelopes.
Modified tapioca starches are applied in the paper industry to improve paper quality, increase production rates, and improve pulp yield. Cationic starches are employed to flocculate pulp, increasing de-watering rates on the wet end. Faster machine speeds and better pulp yields result. The starch remains in the finished paper, acting as an
internal sizing agent to increase the paper strength. Low viscosity starches, such as oxidized starches, are applied as surface sizing to improve the strength and control ink
absorption properties for printing and writing. Modified tapioca starches are also used as a pigment binder for surface coating to obtain a smooth, white paper.
TextileTapioca starches are used in the textile industry as sizing agents to stiffen and protect the thread for improved weaving efficiency. They are also used as finishing agents to obtain smooth fabrics, and color thickeners to obtain sharp and durable printed fabrics. For this purpose, thin-boiled starches are usually preferred. Revision 02 Date Nov 26, 01 Page 6
Pharmacy and Cosmetics Native and modified tapioca starches are used as binders, fillers and disintegrating
agents for tablet production. Specialty modified starches are used as a carrier for skin moisturizers, which are frequently mineral oil based. Other modified starches are used as
emulsifiers, encapsulating agents (vitamins), sizing (mousse for hair), thickeners (shampoo), etc.
Biodegradable materialsNative and modified tapioca starches can be blended with petroleum-based or synthetic polymers to improve the biodegradability and minimize the production cost of
more environmentally friendly materials. Applications of modified tapioca starch in food industry .Starch type Functionality/Property Application Pre-gelatinized starch Thickening, Cold water soluble Instant soups, instant
puddings, sauces, bakery mixes, frozen food. Acid-thinned starch Lower viscosity, High retrogradation, Strong gel
Gum, candies, formulated liquid food ,Dextrins Binding, coating, encapsulation ,Confectionery, baking, flavorings, spices, oils ,Oxidized starch Stabilizer, adhesives, gelling, clarifying agent , Formulated food, batter, gum, confectionery
Starch ethers , (Hydroxy-alkyl starch , Carboxy-methyl starch) , Stabilizer, fat replacement Soups, puddings, frozen
food , Starch ester, (Acetylated starch Phosphate mono-ester starch) ,Stabilizer, thickening, agent, clarification. Candies, emulsion , Cross-linked starch, (Di-starch phosphate),
Thickening, stabilizer, texturizing agent, Pie fillings, breads, frozen , products, bakery, pudding, instant foods, soups.
(Bella Vista Langkawi)
Adapted from Thaitapioca website.