Cassava, a pivotal crop in Brazil, boasts an annual production of 22-25 million tons. However, its market, dominated by farinha, faces challenges due to price volatility. This impacts small-scale farmers, cultivation areas, and technology adoption. To stabilize prices and open new avenues, diversification is essential.
Farinha constitutes 70%-80% of cassava production, but its demand fluctuates. This affects income, technology adoption, and cultivated land. Diversification can mitigate these challenges, stabilizing both cassava flour and fresh root prices. Exploring new markets is crucial to elevate cassava’s value and establish links between small-scale agriculture and expanding markets.
Cassava offers a range of products like chips, flours, and starch, catering to various industries. Embracing new technologies and developing novel products aligned with market trends is key. To navigate this, factors such as the evolution of successful starch sectors, current diversification trends in Brazil, and proposed short to medium-term strategies must be considered.
Evolution of the Starch Sector: Learning from France’s Success
France’s starch industry began with wheat starch exclusively for nonfood uses. The industrial revolution in the 19th century transformed it into a major player, offering diverse raw materials for various applications.
France’s starch sector witnessed significant growth, adapting to evolving markets. The industry’s success lay in creating new products and exploring new applications, leading to a diverse product-market matrix.
The French starch industry continues to evolve by responding to emerging demands. This adaptive approach strengthens and diversifies markets, catering to nutritional considerations, quality requirements, and environmental concerns.
Applying Lessons to the Cassava Industry in Brazil
Traditionally, cassava products include farinha, polvilho azedo, and starch. While farinha dominates, the Brazilian cassava industry is actively diversifying. New markets for traditional products and innovative products for traditional markets are emerging, driven by initiatives such as the use of native or modified cassava starches and frozen cassava chips.
Unlike the French starch sector, Brazil faces resource constraints in research and development. Initiatives like Centro Raizes Tropicais aim to bridge this gap, bringing together researchers to explore new products for new markets. The goal is to follow a strategic matrix, similar to the successful French model.
Research efforts, particularly under projects like EU-STD3, align with the “new products for new markets” approach. As these initiatives progress, the potential for market expansion, including beer brewing using cassava starch and sour starch-based premixes for popular products like pão de queijo, is gaining interest from the business community.
In conclusion, unlocking the full potential of the cassava industry in Brazil involves strategic diversification, innovation, and learning from successful models, as seen in the evolution of the starch sector in France.