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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 10 December 2008 Referencing Hub media

    Potato starch is imported from Australia or Asia. Can it be sourced in New Zealand? What will be the benefits?


    Richard Williams (Potatopak, now re-branded as earthpac)

    So you take the water after the potatoes have been cut and centrifuge it and then you get this cake, which is about 40% moisture, and then put it through a starch processing facility and take it down to about 15–18% moisture and filter it.

    We have to import our potato starch from Australia or from Asia because it’s an expensive process. If you looked at each individual chip processing plant, whether it be Mr Chips, McCains, Talleys – each one individually hasn’t got enough throughput to warrant the $1.2 million to have a plant to reclaim the starch. You’re going to want to have quite a large throughput of starch to make it viable. But if you get them all together and then get 4,000 tonnes collectively, then it’s a viable proposition, so we’re in negotiations with all three companies at the moment to make starch here in New Zealand.

    In terms of their environmental policies, it’s beneficial for them to say, “Look, we’re totally environmentally friendly, it’s all being recycled and it’s ethically sound.” And you see, if you actually look at potato starch in its raw state, it’s not readily biodegradable. It will biodegrade over quite a long period of time, but in situations like in Malaysia, where there’s a great big factory that does all the chips for McDonalds in Singapore, all their waste goes into the river. It sets like concrete on the bottom and kills all the life in the river. It settles on the bottom and there’s no way it can biodegrade down there.

    Snack Brands Australia