The new name, National Starch Food Innovation, that took effect from 1 January 2005, represents an opportunity to refresh the firm's status in the competitive modified starch arena.
"Our new identity is testament to our ability to deliver innovation beyond our historical competencies," said James P. Zallie, group vice president at National Starch.
Competing in the mainstream commodity starch arena - total use of starch in the world today is pitched at 48.5 million tons - is extremely difficult, particularly when it is not the commodities themselves that are the competition, but rather the functional characteristics of the value-added products.
When aiming at functional properties in starch, most commercial companies examine the characteristics of competitive starches in particular applications. This sets the target to shoot for, claims Morton Satin in a report from the UN-backed Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Found in a wide range of food applications - from soup to pie fillings - functionalities for starch include gel texture, flow properties, emulsion stabilising capacity, mouthfeel, lubricity, adhesiveness and crystallinity.
Market researchers SK Patil and Associates estimate that total use of starch will hit 70 million tons by 2010 on annual (global) growth of 2.2 per cent. Growth in the US, at 0.65 per cent, the EU, at 0.2 per cent, and Japan, at 0.18 per cent, will be very slight, while for the rest of the world the market rise is pitched at 2.25 per cent.
"Both the US and the EU will have to compete for this growth in China, India, Indonesia and South America," claim the market analysts.
Speciality starches can help to lift the bottom line for starch players. Recent launches for National Starch include the arrival in May 2004 of a new starch, Novation Prima derived from waxy maize, which it claims delivers superior freeze/thaw and shelf-life stability.
National Starch's Novation range of functional native starches is described as 'clean label' - in other words, suitable for manufacturers looking for a simple 'starch' declaration and EU classification as an ingredient rather than an additive.