A visit to a small, family-owned noodle factory in Jakarta proved an unexpected highlight for many during this year’s CBH Grower study tour. Established in the early 1980s and now supporting 30 workers, Mie 88 is one of Indonesia’s oldest wet noodle factories. The team produce three tonnes of traditional noodles every day of the week, by hand, using the same methods employed for generations. Owner Timothy Thian said most of the 3250kg of flour used daily was sourced from Interflour — one of South East Asia’s biggest flour millers and a major customer of WA’s main grain handler, CBH Group. “We prefer Interflour flours because the price is good for us, and they give the right colour and chewiness to our noodles,” Mr Thian told Countryman. “It (WA wheat) has just got the right texture to it.” Mr Thian’s grandparents founded Mie 88 and he now runs the business with his mother, Julyana Setiawan. While the operation is dwarfed by the scale of mass-produced noodle manufacturers such as Indomie, Mie 88 is an important source of food for many city dwellers. “We sell the noodles mostly around Jakarta — to markets, to retailers, and some are sold to noodle carts around the streets,” Mr Thian said. “The (noodle-making) process is quite simple: we mix our flours together and we add water to it and some premix; that’s our basically our family recipe. “Then we add it to the mixer and put it through a machine that makes it into sheets of dough. Then we roll it out so it’s thinner, ready to be cut.” About 40 WA growers got to see this process first-hand, with many citing the tour as one of the most eye-opening. It followed a visit that morning to Indofoods’ massive Jakarta noodle factory, where an automated production line churns out 10 million packets of instant noodles a day. Jerdacuttup farmer Brian Wake — who grows wheat, canola and barley between Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun — said it was fascinating seeing both ends of the spectrum. “To see them packing it all by hand and sending it straight to the wet market was very impressive,” he said. “We saw the most technologically efficient operation down to the family operation, where mum and dad and the kids and their mates are doing it to all be consumed that day.” For Kellerberrin grower Ryan Forsyth, it was seeing the contrast between the two factories that left the biggest impression. “They were right at the opposite ends of the spectrum, but to me, they both seemed to be doing pretty well,” he said. “Both of them had quite good markets, so I found that quite interesting.” Perillup grower Tom Riggall echoed Mr Forsyth’s comments. “The highly automated operations were very impressive, of course, but I really enjoyed the unique small ones as well — the family-owned ones,” he said. Arrowsmith East grower Michael Holt described it as a “humbling” experience. “To see the Indofood factory, where everything’s automated and just pushing out thousands and thousands of products, and then go around the corner to the family making noodles, just seeing the difference between one customer to another was quite fascinating to me,” he said.