Sweet things ahead for Oz wheat in Asia

The West Australian

Australian wheat could potentially take a bigger slice of the Asian cake and biscuit market in the coming years.

A new Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre project is investigating opportunities to grow the use of low-protein wheat for sweet products in key Asian markets. If successful, this would establish a new market for Aussie wheat.

AEGIC Grains Research Scientist Dr Siem Siah said the project could potentially support the future supply of soft wheat from Australia, and increase the value of low-protein wheat classes such as ANW2 and low-protein ASW.

“Australia’s noodle wheat class is a semi-soft wheat and at low protein is likely to share quality characteristics with wheat used for cake and biscuits,” she said.

Dr Siah said in addition to the possibility of establishing new markets for ANW2 and ASW, the project could reinvigorate Australia’s soft wheat industry.

“Expected demand across Asia could potentially support specific soft wheat production in Australia; however, this would need the support of the Australian grains industry — including breeding companies — as farmers would need soft wheat varieties that compete effectively with other crop options,” she said.

Dr Siah said North American wheat was presently dominant in the Asian cake and biscuit sector but may not be able to meet the expected growth in demand in the coming years.

“Asia is looking for alternative supply options for soft wheat, and Australia offers many benefits, including proximity to Asia, hence lower transportation cost, and combined cargo efficiencies,” Dr Siah said.

“The US Wheat Associates weekly price report indicates that the average price difference from October 2014 to January 2017 of soft white wheat at 9.5 per cent protein content attracts a $42 (US $34) price premium compared to 10.5 per cent protein.

“This highlights that lower protein soft wheat attracts better pricing for its functional quality.”

Dr Siah said AEGIC had started engaging with Asian millers to identify their wheat quality requirements for cake and biscuit applications in Asia.

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