Imports of clean-label (non-GMO) starches continue to trend higher despite a slow start to 2021 for most varieties. Imports of potato and tapioca starches together supplied 244,691 MT to the market in 2020: 132,740 MT of potato starch (up 14 percent year over year) and almost 112,000 MT of tapioca starch (about the same YOY). The other types of clean-label starches represent much smaller import volumes: Wheat starch at 30,159 MT in 2020 was up 3 percent YOY, while rice starch, at 27,480 MT, was down 41 percent from 2019.
Tapioca imports were around average in January but hovered below the five-year average for Feb-Apr 2021. May imports showed a notable jump, though, with the month’s 14,033 MT up 14 percent YOY and near March 2016’s record. Monthly tapioca volumes tend to decline over the course of Q3, due to seasonality of starch availability out of Thailand, before increasing a bit at the end of the year. Thailand supplies over 90 percent of U.S. tapioca starch; the rest comes mostly from Vietnam and Brazil.
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Monthly U.S. starch imports
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