Compositions, methods, and systems for manufacturing articles, particularly containers and packaging materials, having a starch-bound cellular matrix reinforced with substantially uniformly dispersed fibers. High strength articles that have adequate flexibility and toughness immediately or very shortly after being demolded without the need for subsequent conditioning are molded from compositions having a starch-based binder and fibers that are uniformly dispersed by means of a high yield stress fluid fraction within the starch-based composition. In a two-step mixing process, a preblended mixture is formed by gelating a portion of the starch-based binder or other thickening agent in water to form a liquid phase having high yield stress into which the fibers are substantially uniformly dispersed. The fibers preferably have an average length of at least about 2 mm and an aspect ratio of at least about 25:1. The remaining starch-based binder, water, and other desired admixtures, such as mold-release agents, inorganic fillers, rheology-modifying agents, plasticizers, integral coating or sealing materials, and dispersants, are added to the preblended mixture to form a moldable starch-based composition, which is molded between heated molds to produce form-stable articles having a desired shape and a selectively controlled foamed structural matrix. Such articles can replace articles presently made from conventional materials like paper, paperboard, polystyrene, plastic, or other organic-based materials and have especial utility in the mass-production of containers, particularly food and beverage containers.