Australian wheat has great noodle appeal

Wednesday, 03 July, 2019

Australian wheat has great noodle appeal

The Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) has identified a potential threat to the Australian wheat export industry: lower-cost exports from the Black Sea region. In response, the organisation is taking action to bolster against the threat.

South East Asia accounts for almost half of Australia’s wheat export market, where the grain is mainly used in products such as instant noodles and fresh yellow alkaline noodles. AEGIC has stressed that, to remain a key supplier of South East Asia’s wheat, Australia must understand the quality requirements of the region’s flour millers and meet these needs in the face of mounting pressure from low-cost competitors.

When assessing the quality of wheat for noodles, the look and feel of the noodles are considered. Noodle appearance is very important in Asian markets. Fresh noodles should have a bright, clean appearance with good colour stability. The texture and mouthfeel of noodles is also very important. Although preferences differ between countries, in general noodles should have a ‘clean bite’ with good elasticity. Good-quality noodles don’t go soft too quickly in soup, meaning that textural stability is important.

AEGIC Wheat Quality Technical Markets Manager Dr Larisa Cato said previous AEGIC research had already confirmed noodle texture (firmness and elasticity), colour and colour stability were among the major factors that flour millers look for when making wheat purchasing decisions.

The research, also supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), collected and analysed the wheat quality preferences of more than 250 flour milling staff in 40 flour mills across Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

“Thanks to this market insight, the Australian industry has a detailed understanding of what flour millers look for when buying wheat,” Dr Cato said.

“We know Australian wheat has the best colour attributes for noodles; better than wheat from any other origin in the world. Whilst the noodle textural properties of our wheat are good, there is room for improvement.”

In the light of these findings, AEGIC is now focusing on enhancing the noodle textural qualities of Australian wheat.

“Noodle texture is related to mouthfeel — ie, the balance of firmness and elasticity, and is unique to each noodle type and each market. AEGIC’s objective is to develop measurable texture targets for each of our wheat classes to support Wheat Quality Australia classification and wheat breeders in new variety development.”

Dr Cato said there was an opportunity to further improve noodle appearance. “This will help widen the gap between Australian wheat and wheat of other origins and help to maintain the premium status of Australian wheat.”

To further support the Australian wheat industry, AEGIC has ramped up in-market technical support and engagement by hosting Australian Wheat Technical Seminars in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand.

“This type of technical support and engagement is extremely important in helping customers understand the value of using Australian wheat for noodles and other products, thereby influencing their purchasing decisions,” Dr Cato said.

Back in the lab, AEGIC is benchmarking major APH, AH and APW wheat varieties for their suitability for premium yellow alkaline noodles and instant noodles, and will soon establish a trained sensory evaluation panel to assess noodle quality attributes such as appearance, texture, mouthfeel and taste.

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