A GRAINGROWERS-led project into promoting the use of Australian wheat in China may see noodle producers in the Asian powerhouse use a greater proportion of Australian wheat in their blends.
Chinese noodle makers are being wooed with figures that suggest the higher the proportion of Australian wheat in a batch of noodles, the better end-use performance traits the product will have.
GrainGrowers technical services general manager and project leader Ken Quail, who headed up the Australian Wheat for China project, said although the use of Australian wheat was only in its infancy, there was very positive feedback early doors.
He said a manager of one of the Chinese flour mills involved in the pilot had raved about the quality of the final product.
“The general manager of the mill said that noodles made from Australian wheat were the best he’d tasted,” Dr Quail said.
He said the mill was one of the major players in the Chinese flour industry and was regarded as a market leader, so the use of Australian wheat may catch on with other millers.
Already, Dr Quail said NSW growers are working with another Chinese mill to supply wheat, as a result of networks formed via the GrainGrowers project.
He said the Chinese had been working with east coast wheat initially, but said there was no reason good quality WA wheat could not also be used.
The GrainGrowers work is part of a push by the organisation into the advocacy and technical services sphere, similar to the work done in America by US Wheat Associates.
Dr Quail said the key to success in the burgeoning Chinese market was ensuring Australian growers knew what Chinese consumers wanted and that Chinese consumers knew what Australian wheat was capable of.
He said GrainGrowers was working on opening communication channels between Australia and China.
“The knowledge being developed is being communicated to major Australian wheat exporters, China’s biggest food company COFCO and the State Administration of Grain (ASAG) which is responsible for setting grain standards in China,” he said.
He said there was significant scope for collaborative work that mutually benefited China and Australia in terms of developing wheat varieties that are suited to growing in Australia and that have the end-performance traits required by Chinese consumers.
Already, Dr Quail said the Australian Wheat In China project had established a collaborative research program involving COFCO and ASAG to understand what happens when Australian wheat is blended with Chinese wheat for the production of high value noodles, breads and traditional Chinese steamed bread.
Dr Quail said there was significant scope for China to develop as a buyer of premium Australian wheat.
Previously, China has been regarded as a price conscious, opportunistic buyer of Australian wheat, but Dr Quail believes it could evolve into a market with at least some segments paying a premium for quality, similar to Japan.
“With increasing wealth and a demand for high quality food, China is set to become a regular importer of higher quality wheat,” he said.
He said said the wheats sourced under the new project were high protein APH (Australian Prime Hard) and Hard varieties, not the noodle varieties Western Australian growers had long supplied to Japanese and Korean markets.