Texture Is King In Asia

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Cargill’s modified tapioca starches help manufacturers create irresistible products by improving the texture of noodles, processed meat and more.


Many believe that the thriving food culture in Asia is dictated by taste—this statement is only partly true. What really makes food come alive is the feeling one derives when diving into a bowl of steamy, springy noodles or indulging in a sticky, sweet treat. In other words, the pleasant physical sensations derived from eating is what makes food culture thrive. The key to sparking this connection with food is, in part, taste, but the impact of texture cannot be discounted.

Innova Market Insights lists texture as one of the top 5 trends for 2020. In its listicle, the research company states: “Consumers increasingly recognise the influence of texture in food and beverages on sensory experiences and feelings of indulgence […] textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.” Likewise, in large Asian countries such as China and India, more than 64 percent of consumers said they value the texture experience of a product more than its ingredient list (Innova Market Insights).


Celebrating Local Textures

Texture has always been a big part of the Asian cuisine. Be it a soft handful of traditional Japanese mochi, the starchy “springiness” of Chinese chow mein (yellow) noodles, or a savoury mouthful of tinned sausages, we have grown up surrounded by a myriad of textures in our daily food. While these textures originated in fresh cooking and foodservice, with the rise of home delivery and consumption of packaged food, maintaining just the right texture for these traditionally-made fresh products can be tricky. From the time the product is packaged in a factory to the moment it reaches the consumer, it needs to maintain a celebratory mouthfeel.


Clean Label & Healthy Options

Even before the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Asian countries were pushing for healthier lifestyles due to the increased incidences of chronic conditions. As a result, healthier alternatives have become popular in several categories, including staples like rice and noodles. For example, healthier noodle options include those made with wholegrains or high fibre, and those that are air-dried instead of fried.

However, it is important to note that when substitutions are made in a recipe, the product often suffers in terms of the texture and overall eating experience. The key to ensuring consumer acceptance for these fortified products is to ensure the texture remains the same, even when its nutritional qualities have been reformulated.


Creating Memorable Food Experiences

To create memorable food experiences, Cargill has widened its range of Modified Tapioca Starch offerings. Tapioca is a local botanical is Asia; it is produced in Thailand and surrounding Southeast Asian countries. It is naturally GMO-free and has unique texture properties.

Cargill’s robust portfolio of Modified Tapioca starch offerings ranges across different modification types, enabling manufacturers to achieve their texture targets across food and beverage applications. For instance, Cargill’s Modified Tapioca starches can improve the springiness of consumer favourite: instant noodles.

As at-home consumption rises, the sales of instant noodles has grown significantly during this pandemic. Not only do instant noodles have a long shelf-life, they also give consumers a familiar, nostalgic feeling: like comfort in a bowl. These at-home consumption habits are expected to outlive the pandemic, and manufacturers can capture the nostalgic feeling in a small disposable bowl by maintaining the familiar mouthfeel of the noodles.

Besides instant noodles, processed meat such as fish balls and sausages are also a huge part of the Asian diet. With greater premium food options, rising global cuisines and the emerging middle class in Southeast Asia, consumers are expecting more when it comes to the eating experience of processed meats. However, a reduction in meat quality and poor cold chain networks can compromise textures of processed meat—these are common issues within the food supply chain that can be combatted by using Cargill’s Modified Tapioca Starches. On this matter, Chik Liang Tan, Segment Director for Texturisers and Specialties at Cargill, comments:

“Food products often go through three to seven free-thaw cycles from manufacturing to consumption, which could affect their texture. By incorporating our Modified Tapioca Starch solutions, manufacturers can maintain the fresh eating experience for longer—for instance by preventing the meat emulsion in a sausage to be compromised or by maintaining the fresh chewy bite in the frozen gyoza.”

Likewise, Gaetan Heynderickx, Technical Director for Cargill’s Food Ingredients and Bio-Industrial business in Asia, adds: “We can truly understand the challenges our customers face in terms of texture. With the broad range of our offerings in texturisers—including modified starches, stabiliser systems, hydrocolloids and so on—and we are in a strong position to solve challenging texture problems across applications.”

By enhancing the texture and overall eating experience of everyday products such as noodles and processed meat, Cargill’s array of modified tapioca starches are the texturisers of choice for food manufacturers.


Cargill has 13 Innovation centres and application labs globally, with five in Asia Pacific alone. Aside from texturising solutions, Cargill also has a wide range of ingredients such as stevia, polyols, pea protein, lecithin and so on in their portfolio, making them a complete solution provider and partner in product development.

To learn more about Cargill’s Modified Tapioca Starches, please reach out to us at: [email protected]


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