Indon wheat market 'substantial

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

Indonesian demand for wheat will increase substantially in coming years and Australia is poised to take a large slice of this expanding market.

But issues with quality and a desperate need for technical assistance by Indonesian millers could impact on Australia's future exports with our nearest neighbour.

Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre program manager Roslyn Jettner told the Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne on Tuesday that demand for noodle wheat in Indonesia was expected to increase by more than 23 per cent and growth in bread products was predicated to be almost 30 per cent over the next five years.

Ms Jettner said Australia had the opportunity to capture a significant percentage of this growth.

"But it would be dangerous to believe that we can rely on the reputation of past quality, our proximity to the market and that our wheat grades are the best in regard to quality, for these growth industries. This is under threat," she said.

Ms Jettner said since Australia was a high cost supplier of wheat, Australian farmers could not compete on price with low-cost producers from countries such as India.

She said Indonesia had been providing very clear signals to the Australian industry in regard to a need for independent seasonal quality information and technical support to optimise the use of Australian wheats.

"New millers are entering the market who are less familiar with Australian wheats," she said.

"Competitor countries are actively courting these companies with technical information and support. Who is the independent organisation in Australia that is providing the technical support to millers and training new players in the value and use of Australian wheat grades?"

Ms Jettner said the industry, as a whole, must endorse a path forward for the provision of technical assistance and education to international customers.

"The Australian industry has to come together and decide which is the best industry organisation to suit that. Obviously there should be resources that go with this responsibility and these resources need to come from somewhere," she said.

"The industry needs to decide where these resources come from, and that's probably from the whole of the supply chain and government. I don't see there is one single organisation that should be putting up the funding."

Ms Jettner said while Australian wheat was suited for the Indonesian noodle market, based on its chemical and gluten structure, it was not well recognised for its bread production qualities.

She said the US and Canada had developed and promoted technical processes internationally that successfully used their wheat for bread products.

"We use different baking techniques in Australia that are suited to our bread wheats," she said.

"The techniques commonly used in Indonesia have been developed around the qualities of our competitor's wheat.

"What we need to do is demonstrate (to Indonesian millers) the baking techniques that are suited to Australian wheat."

Ms Jettner said another strategy would be to produce wheat that matched the qualities of US and Canadian wheat, or develop new ways of processing Australia wheat in line with US techniques.

More than 900 delegates attended the annual Australian Grains Industry Conference held in Melbourne on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails