RECENT changes to wheat classification in WA will aid the development of new market opportunities in the Japanese noodle market for Western Australian wheatgrowers.
The Department of Agriculture and Food was instrumental in generating the change, which will open the way for suitable hard wheat to be sold to the ramen noodle market.
The department has been working on a research project, with co-funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, to assess the potential to profitably supply the ramen noodle market.
Ramen noodles constitute about 35 per cent of the Japanese noodle market, which are consumed as a soup base by a population of more than 127 million.
The project examined the quality and agronomic performance of seven wheat cultivars and two Prime Hard (APH) controls.
Department senior research officer Bill Lambe said the project had proven WA had the capability to grow and supply Japan with wheat that met market requirements, which include Prime Hard type protein levels.
“The research demonstrated that high quality ramen noodles could be made from selected varieties of wheat grown in WA,” he said.
“An expert tasting panel and a visiting noodle expert from a major Japanese flour mill evaluated several wheat varieties for quality performance, including sheet colour, specks, taste, handling, elasticity, strength and texture.
“The results indicate a high degree of confidence that Katana and two crossbreds would meet or exceed the sensory requirements for ramen noodles.”
Agronomic field trials were also undertaken at Mullewa, Merredin and Mukinbudin over two years.
Axe, Katana, Sunco, Crusader and Gregory yielded well, although they were still behind the control varieties of Bonnie Rock, Carnamah and Wyalkatchem.
Development officer Ben Curtis said the challenge for growers targeting the ramen noodle market would be achieving the higher protein requirements.
“We realise to achieve the necessary protein we will have to have appropriate rotations and good nutrition to make sure we have the best chance of getting into that high protein window for ramen noodles,” he said.
The project will now go on to assess whether there is a price premium for such wheat, to help the grains industry consider the possibility for a future segregation for the ramen noodle market.