A NEW WA venture producing frozen Japanese noodles for export is showing the way in terms of value-adding to the State's raw commodities.
WA company Ball Noodles' $8 million factory in Hamilton Hill is adding tremendous value to quality WA wheat prior to export by producing boiled, frozen Udon and Ramen noodles.
Since production started in July this year, the company has sold more than one million frozen meals to Japan, USA and the UK and expects all three markets to grow in the near term.
Agriculture Minister Kim Chance, who will officially opened the factory last week, said the venture, backed by the TOHO Corporation of Japan, combined the best raw ingredients with the best equipment and the best people to produce superior quality Japanese noodles.
"Ball Noodles has committed to best practice business procedures at all stages, including the move to value adding, an export market focus and supply chain approach including overseas involvement," Mr Chance said.
"Its attention to quality management and commitment to continued research and development has earned recognition from significant overseas markets and set an example to other WA companies."
Wheat is WA's major grain export, worth about $1.4 billion in 2000-01. In that year Japan was the State's third largest export market, taking 890,000 tonnes of wheat valued at $222 million.
Much of this wheat is high quality noodle wheat used primarily for the production of Udon noodles in Japan and WA is regarded as the world's leading supplier of high quality wheat for Japanese-style Udon.
The development of this wheat type has arisen from active, quality research and wheat breeding programs carried out by the WA Department of Agriculture.
"By comparing the values of wheat production and exports it is evident that more than 90pc of our wheat is exported as whole grain," Mr Chance said.
"There is a growing recognition that the sectorial approach that has driven our businesses in the past is no longer appropriate in a modern business environment.
"Quality control, traceability, more demanding consumers and a rapidly changing market environment, demand a high level of communication and co-operation between all sectors of an industry.
"So I am particularly pleased to see the involvement of the Toho Corporation in Ball Noodles which brings across to markets, technology and logistic support to this new and exciting venture.
"The Department of Agriculture has worked closely with the company at all stages of the new development from the pre-feasibility study to commissioning of the new plant, including assistance in securing Commonwealth funding of $100,000 for a noodle testing machine.
"Department officers will continue to be available to assist as the business develops."
Mr Chance also acknowledged the involvement of Weston Milling which will produce much of the flour for the noodle plant using WA wheats.
The $8 million plant is world class, designed by experts from Japan and Australia and the noodle line was purchased as a turn-key line from Japan's leading manufacturer. The entire factory was built in about six months with quality WA workmanship.
"Quality assurance producers will be adopted and Japanese specialists will be involved in all stages of noodle production," the Minister said.
"The factory is also certified to produce organic noodles for organic farmers produced to Australian and Japanese agricultural standards."