A short history of starch manufacture – From Ancient Egyptian glue to pea starch concentrate

The birth of starch – A “sticky” start in Ancient Egypt to stiff fabrics in the Middle Ages

From the times of Ancient Egypt to 21st century society, the starch industry has seen on-going growth and innovation.

The early history of starch manufacture is difficult to determine but the use of “starchy” adhesives were recorded ancient Egypt. Although the Romans had the knowledge of how to separate starch from grain around 170 BC, it was not until the 16th century that wheat starch was being used commercially, in the textile industry for stiffening fabrics. Due to the relative high cost of wheat starch, alternative sources were identified and this gave rise to the development of the potato starch industry in the 18th century.


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Consumer driven innovation in the 19th century starch industry

Many people might think that consumer driven product development is a modern-day phenomenon. However, examples of this in the starch industry date back to the 19th century when increased consumer demand for textiles, colour printing and paper saw significant development of the starch industry combined with innovations in technology and products. This period also saw diversification to manufacture starch from corn (maize), potato and rice, in addition to the older use of wheat. Although dried peas have been an important source of nutrients in human food since the Middle Ages and split peas (dehulled / split dried peas) since the late 19th century, starch manufacture from peas is a much more recent innovation.

Development in the 19th century starch industry was due to increased demand for colour printing, textiles and paper and consumer driven innovation was also continued into the 20th and 21st centuries. In recent times, increased demand for “healthy” products have stimulated growth and innovation in pea processing.

The birth of pea starch in the 20th century

Although peas are one of the oldest cultivated crops, with records dating back to 7000 – 6000BC, the pea starch industry is a “new” kid on the block with the industrial processing of dried peas originating in the 20th century.

Increased demand for “healthy” products has seen a dramatic increase in the launch of processed food products including pea protein as an ingredient. Satisfying the demand for pea protein has resulted in increased availability of other pea based products based on fibre and starch on the market.


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Pea starch satisfying the demands of 21st century pet parents

Increased pea starch availability is great news as this enables more pet food manufacturers to benefit from its properties. Satisfying today’s pet owner (or pet parent) is a lot more complex than previously. There has always been the requirement that petfood is palatable, nutritionally balanced and contributes to good faeces quality. However, today’s pet parents also demand that it is made from natural ingredients that are “clean” (no chemicals used in the manufacture) and are from sustainable sources. 

Fortunately for pet food manufacturers, Vestkorn Milling can deliver products that satisfy all the demands on quality, functionality and trust.

Choose Vestkorn Milling as your preferred supplier of high quality pea products, including pea starch concentrate.

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