Oats in a China shop
An Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre research project is investigating whether the emergence of new oat products in the China market — such as oat noodles, oat rice and even oat milk — could have the potential to increase the value of Australian oats.
AEGIC has been collaborating with Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China on a research project identifying oat varieties suitable for oat products for the Chinese market.
One of the objectives is to benchmark Australian and Chinese oat varieties by documenting their relative composition, functionality and suitability for Chinese oats-based foods, such as flaked oats, oat noodles, oat rice and oat milk.
A key aspect is sensory evaluation, including taste, how it feels in the mouth and appearance.
AEGIC recently hosted Dr Xiaoping Li, a specialist in sensory oat product evaluation from Shaanxi Normal University.
Through multiple sensory training sessions, Dr Li trained AEGIC staff in how to evaluate oat products to better understand the acceptable and preferred sensory quality of oats-based food products among Chinese consumers.
AEGIC barley and oat program manager Mark Tucek said Australia was a major supplier of export oats to China.
“Australian oats already have a good reputation and consumer presence in China, with advertisements spruiking Australia as the source of oat products,” he said.
“This project could potentially increase the value of Australian oats by supporting their use in new and innovative uses for this wholesome grain.”
Shaanxi Normal University’s oat research team leader Xinzhong Hu said Chinese consumers were becoming increasingly more health conscious.
“Driven by an expanding middle class, Chinese consumers are looking for new, more nutritious products to complement staple foods such as rice and wheat noodles,” Professor Hu said.
“Products such as oat noodles, oat rice and oat milk, which already exist in China on a small scale, could be an opportunity for Australian oats as these consumer health demands continue to grow.”
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