The production of starch has been a mainstay of the European economy since the 18th century having first been produced from wheat, and later potatoes and maize all of which are grown in the European Union.
Europe is the world’s leading producer of potato and wheat starch. It is also at the forefront of production of certain starch-co-products including fibres and proteins as well as wheat gluten; in addition to its annual production of 10 million tonnes of starch and starch derivatives, the EU starch industry produces 5 million tonnes of these starch co-products every year.
Compared with the worlds other major starch-producing region, the EU has the most diverse raw material base across wheat, potato and maize.
The European starch industry is an important employer, making vital contributions to local economies across the continent. Being located primarily in rural areas where employment opportunities are often scarce, EU starch plants provide an invaluable source of income and employment to the many EU farmers who cultivate the raw materials from which starch is produced.
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In late 2023, the European Commission is due to publish its proposal for a legislative framework on sustainable food systems (FSFS). This proposal, once adopted, will likely provide the framework for a multitude of specific actions to help promote a sustainable food system going forward for years to come. It is of paramount importance to get that right.
This paper aims to demonstrate the substantial contribution so far of the EU starch industry to a sustainable food system, as well as what core needs our sector has for that contribution to continue, and even increase.