Initial trade deals and significant Chinese interest in understanding Australian wheat grades for manufacturing food have resulted from research funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
The project, led by Grain Growers Limited, aims to optimise the use of Australian wheat in the production of premium Chinese noodles and other food products.
“Studies conducted under the project found that, in all cases, the higher the proportion of Australian wheat blended with Chinese wheat, the better the quality of Chinese noodles and bread,” Grain Growers technical services manager and project leader Ken Quail said.
He said a Chinese flour mill involved in the project had started importing small quantities of Australian wheat under China’s quota system. The system allows direct imports of up to one million tonnes of wheat annually.
“The general manager of the mill, which specialises in noodle flour production, said that noodles made from Australian wheat were the best he’d tasted,” Dr Quail said.
“The mill has the potential to import significant quantities of wheat in the future and as a market leader is likely to influence the purchasing of other companies.
“New South Wales growers who attended a seminar in February 2012 organised through the project have made valuable contacts and are working with another Chinese mill to supply wheat.”
Dr Quail said the Australian wheat for China research project aimed to encourage Australian wheat exports to China by developing and communicating knowledge about Australian wheat specifications for the production of premium wheat products in China.
“The knowledge being developed is being communicated to major Australian wheat exporters, China’s biggest food company COFCO and the State Administration of Grain (ASAG) which is responsible for setting grain standards in China,” he said.
“To develop the information the project established a collaborative research program involving these organisations to understand what happens when Australian wheat is blended with Chinese wheat for the production of high value noodles, breads and traditional Chinese steamed bread.”
Dr Quail said China was historically only an opportunistic buyer of Australian wheat, typically buying when world prices were low and storing the wheat for up to five years before it was used.
“Its purchase of Australian wheat has largely been low protein Australian Standard White (ASW), at the lower priced end of the market,” he said.
“But with increasing wealth and a demand for high quality food, China is set to become a regular importer of higher quality wheat.
“The Australian wheat for China project seeks to understand how Australia can best benefit from development of the Chinese wheat market.”
Dr Quail said events conducted under the project had led directly to the new marketing opportunities between Australia and Chinese flour millers.
The Australian wheat for China project is continuing until June 2013.
PHOTO CAPTION: Chinese noodle experts evaluating noodle samples made from Australian wheat as part of a workshop in Beijing to determine Chinese preferences.
Ken Quail, Grain Growers Limited
(02) 9888 9600
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
(08) 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
GRDC Project Code