Appetite for Vietnamese sandwich drives wheat demand

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Cally DupeThe West Australian

Growing appetite for the Viet-namese version of a sandwich is driving demand for Australian wheat, researchers say.

Bánh mì is a baguette-style roll filled with meat and salad, sold at roadside stalls and in restaurants across Vietnam.

About 35 per cent of all Australian wheat exported to Vietnam is used to create bread, with a favourite the baguette-style bánh mì.

The majority of wheat, 40-45 per cent, is used to create noodles but demand for bread is rising as the Vietnamese adopt Western eating habits.

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Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre staff recently travelled with flour millers to discuss quality targets for bread and noddle products.

AEGIC market requirements and opportunities program leader Roslyn Jettner said Australian wheat created the preferred taste and golden crust for bánh mì.

“Australian wheat is well regarded in Vietnam for its white flour and bran colour, low moisture, high milling yield and functional attributes,” Ms Jettner said.

“Miller feedback gathered by AEGIC suggests bread consumption is increasing and instant noodle consumption remains strong.”

Vietnam is the second-biggest market for Australian wheat with about 15 per cent used to make confectionery and 10 per cent for aquaculture feed.

About 1.5 million tonnes of wheat valued at $466 million is shipped from Australia to Vietnam each year, most of which is used to make noodles.

Ms Jettner said the name bánh mì was synonymous with a delicious street food sandwich popular in Vietnam and around the world.

“In line with other countries in Asia, consumers in Vietnam are increasing their consumption of bread and other baked products,” she said.

She said AEGIC’s in-market research would provide quantitative data about desired wheat quality characteristics. The data will then be used to support classification and research investment back in Australia.

Ms Jettner said it was essential Australia kept up with demand in the face of competition from North America.

“Strong technical engagement from North America is driving an increase in wheat imports for baking applications,” she said.

The project funded by Grains Research and Development Corporation and AEGIC.

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