Starch is extracted from corn or wheat. Cereals are cleaned and then milled to separate the constituent parts. The flour produced is then mixed with water. The starch milk produced is purified by washing and then processed in a variety of ways.
Starch milk is liquefied under the effect of heat and undergoes an initial hydrolysis process using enzymes. The hydrolysis process is then continued, cutting the molecular chain into longer or shorter parts. A glucose syrup is described by its dextrose equivalent or 'DE'.
Selected for their properties as binders, texturisers, thickeners, stabilisers and setting agents, natural starches are used in paper production, for example, to eliminate irregularities in paper and control absorbency, in the production of plasterboard and in food products (sauces, desserts, biscuits, etc.).
Where specific functions are required -- such as cold solubility, viscosity, thawing stability, fluidity -- natural starches can be processed or modified. They are used in the food industry to help in preparation (microwaveable ready-meals, powdered soups, jams, etc.) and in industrial sectors, particularly paper (to improve paper strength, surface aspect, etc.) and cartonboard.
This is the most diverse family of products and also accounts for the highest volume of sales. Glucose syrups, maltodextrins, dehydrated glucose and polyols (hydrogenated derivatives of glucose syrup) are used in dairy products, confectionery, beverages, soups and sauces, infant and sports nutrition, chewing gum and toothpaste, as well as in the chemicals, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
Vegetable proteins and co-products
The starch processing plants also produce vegetable proteins, wheat and corn gluten, wheat feed and corn feed used in human and animal nutrition.