AUSTRALIAN Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) senior research scientist Siem Siah believes there are opportunities for Australia to supply soft wheat for cake and biscuit applications in Asia.
The idea that Australian Noodle and soft wheat that doesn’t make the grade in Australia could be used to make food in Asia may open up a new market for Australian grain growers.
Over the past 30 years, WA growers have swapped from growing Australian Soft Wheats (ASFT) to growing Australian Noodle Wheats (ANW).
With Australia closing the window to the Asian biscuit and cake market, the US has happily taken up the responsibility of filling that demand.
Up to 80 per cent of US soft wheat, Soft White Wheat (SWW), is sold to Asian markets.
SWW is regularly the cheapest grade of US wheat sold to market making an excellent demand and profitability window.
But Australia, especially WA, has a shipping advantage when it comes to exporting grain to Asian
From when the grain leaves Kwinana terminal, it takes 10 days for it to arrive in Indonesia, compared to the 30 days it takes from North America.
It’s also between $10-$15 cheaper per tonne to ship from WA in
Dr Siah, who hopes to encourage WA to send ANW2 and ASFT, evaluated the performance of soft-grained ANW2, ASFT and hard-grained ASW against that of North American SWW in Asian cake and biscuit products.
AEGIC collaborated with Asian mills to understand their quality demands, preferences and requirements when purchasing soft-grained wheat.
They found that Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) and cookie spread ratio, measured in diameter, are the two most important quality parameters for Indonesia when purchasing low-gluten wheat for production of flour for cakes and biscuits.
“Collaboration with two Indonesian mills showed that generally ANW2 and ASFT make cookies with higher spread ration than that of ASW and they were comparable to that of SWW,” Dr Siah said.
“However the SRC values of Australian soft-grained wheats don’t always meet their quality specifications.”
In Japan it’s a different story with cake texture property, known as melting in the mouth or softness, and cake volume being the most important quality attributes for Japanese mills when purchasing soft-grained wheat for production of flour for cakes and biscuits.
“Technical collaboration with two Japanese mills revealed that ANW2 and ASFT produce cakes with bigger volume than those of ASW and they were comparable to those of SWW,” Dr Siah said.
“The cake textural property was acceptable for one of the mills but slightly unacceptable for the other mill.”
Dr Siah said at similar protein levels, soft-grain grade ANW2 and ASFT made better quality Japanese cakes and Indonesian biscuits than hard-grained ASW.
“The cake volume and biscuit spread ration of ANW2 and ASFT are comparable to that of North American SWW and there are export market potentials for Australian soft-grained wheat to Asia markets,” she said.
In conclusion, Dr Siah said the ANW2 and ASFT could be blended partially with SWW to produce cakes and biscuits with acceptable qualities for Asian markets.
“There is potential in developing dual purpose ANW for noodle and cake and biscuit application at different protein levels, this can help to reduce the risk for growers to grow ANW with a small window to make ANW1,” she said.
“The ANW2 and ASFT provide opportunities for Australian growers to realise increased values by becoming an alternative supplier of soft-grained wheat to Asian countries.”
Dr Siah said the sweet biscuit industry would drive future markets with an increased consumption of cakes and biscuits in Asian countries.