Industrial markets for UK-grown crop polysaccharides


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 September 1994 - 31 March 1995
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
£5,000 From HGCA (Project no. 0042/1/93)
Project leader:
S BATCHELOR1, E BOOTH1, G ENTWISTLE1, K WALKER1, T ap REES2, A HACKING3, G MACKAY4 AND I MORRISON4 1Agro-Industrial Research Services, SAC, The Fergueson Building, Craibstone, Estate, Buscksburn, Aberdden AB2 9YA 2Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EA 3Dextra Laboratories Ltd, Philip Lyle Building, The University, P O Box 68, Reading RG6 2BX 4Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA



About this project


Crop polysaccharides, of which starch is the second most commonly found form, have been identified by LINK as a priority area within the Crops for Industrial Use programme.

Starch is the principal storage carbohydrate material of plants and as such accounts for 80% of the calorific value of the human diet. It is also a useful and important industrial commodity with a wide range of non-food applications. Approximately 37% of European starch production is estimated to be for industrial, non-food uses in comparison to 60% in the USA and 20% in other parts of the world. UK consumption of starch for industrial use accounted for 216,221 tonnes in 1993/94. Much of this starch is modified by physical, chemical or enzymatic methods in order to give it the specific characteristics required by a particular industry. In addition individual sectors may prefer starch from a particular botanical source for certain applications.

The different industrial uses of starch vary m their state of development. Some are well established uses, e.g. paper production. Some are new uses at an early stage of development, e.g. pharmaceuticals, while others are in decline, e.g. textiles.

This report has been commissioned to identify more precisely:

1. current industrial applications of crop starch
2. present market size and the potential for growth of established starch-using sectors

3. potential new industrial applications for crop starch particularly in relation to the opportunities for adding value

4. current limitations to the use of UK crop starch and the properties required

5. the conditions that would allow greater utilisation of this material

6. opportunities for UK agriculture

This study addressed these issues through an extensive review of published and unpublished literature, detailed discussions with key industrial companies and research centres and the economic assessment of investment opportunities. Some limited market research was also undertaken to help evaluate market opportunities. Developments in starch technology outwith the UK were also actively researched and incorporated into the final report to give a comprehensive review of the starch industry.

Chapter 1 gives a description of the UK starch industry, and current UK markets for crop starch are identified and quantified. Chapter 2 defines starch and gives a brief description of its composition and synthesis within the plant. The implication for industrial starch production from modifying the pathway of synthesis is indicated. Chapter 3 establishes current sources of starch and describes the properties of starches that can be commercially produced within the UK. Attention is drawn to the potential that exists to modify starch produced within plants through crop management and genetic modification.

The primary processing of crops to produce native or raw starch is described in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5, the economics of starch production from potato, maize and wheat are presented, together with the opportunities for their development in the UK. Chapter 6 describes the secondary processing of starch to produce a wide range of modified starches that meet the particular requirements of individual markets. These markets and their requirements are considered in some detail in Chapter 7. For each sector, estimates of market size are presented and quality requirements set out. The potential development of these markets is reviewed and critical requirements for greater utilisation of starch for these applications are identified.

A description of these requirements is presented in Chapter 8 in the context of developing the UK industrial starch industry and in the light of future developments in both EU and world trade policy.