IN A YEAR when there has been more bad news than good out of China for the Aussie grains industry, collaborative work between the noodle wheat industry and Chinese millers and noodle makers is highlighting the myriad opportunities still available in the world's most populous nation.
In a bright spot for the Aussie grains industry as a whole, noodle sector representatives are making serious inroads in the Chinese market, with more users being persuaded to use Australian wheat in their products.
Authorities are hopeful that there will be further opportunities in the noodle wheat sector to expand sales based on a product with unique end-use characteristics.
Central to the drive to get Chinese millers to better understand the performance of Australian wheat has been trying to win them over to the use of dedicated noodle wheat varieties.
Currently, Australian wheat exports to China are dominated by Australian Standard White (ASW) for noodles.
However, organisations such as the Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre (AEGIC) are working with grain buyers in China to educate them about the benefits of higher priced dedicated noodle varieties.
China is a voracious consumer of wheat noodles, with lo mein and chow mein two of the most widely eaten wheat-based noodle products.
A recent AEGIC webinar targeting Chinese millers and noodle manufacturers exceeded expectations, with more than 120 people tuning in with interest.
Project leader Dr Siem Siah said the webinar participants were very interested in the benefits of using premium Australian wheat to enhance noodle quality.
"It was fantastic to see such strong interest from our friends in China," Dr Siah said.
"Clearly there is strong potential to increase exports of premium Australian noodle wheat to China.
Although Australian noodle wheat is more expensive per tonne, Dr Siah said the technical support the Australian industry could provide could help Chinese millers and noodle makers extract better returns from each tonne of wheat.
"This kind of ongoing technical support helps end-users maximise the performance of Australian wheat so they will be more likely to purchase from Australia," she said.
Australian noodle wheat is already popular in Japan and Korea and is a focus of the breeding sector.
Wheat breeders Dan Mullan, InterGrain and Meiqin Lu, AGT, spoke to the webinar about the opportunities for further developments in the noodle sector and what quality traits the industry was looking for.
Along with the normal protein, screenings and moisture used as the benchmark for quality in Australia there are other factors the manufacturers are looking at, such as colour, low ash levels and low bran retention.
While China has effectively stopped buying Australian barley due to its imposition of high tariffs as retribution for alleged dumping it is still very much in the market for wheat.
The story Aussie wheat growers mein business targeting noodle markets first appeared on Farm Online.