Philippines milling wheat potential

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A man at a conference

Phillipine Association of Flour Millers executive director Ric Pinca.

PHOTO: AEGIC

An opportunity exists for Australia to increase its milling wheat exports to the Philippines, according to Philippine Association of Flour Millers executive director Ric Pinca, who visited Australia in late 2014. Australia has traditionally provided significant volumes of feed wheat to the Philippines – up to 1.5 million tonnes in 2012. However, in 2013 it contributed only two per cent, or about 200,000t, of the two million tonnes of milling wheat imports. This market is dominated by the US.

“The US was the first nation to bring flour to the Philippines and as such has shaped the Philippines baking industry and also consumer preferences,” Mr Pinca says.

However, he said there was scope for Australia to get some of the “milling pie” if the Australian industry could provide flour millers with the necessary product information.

“We need to know what we can expect, what we can do with the wheat, its quality properties – protein levels, moisture levels, for example – and, importantly, this information must be timely. At the moment we don’t have this knowledge.”

The Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) hosted a week-long tour of Australia’s wheat supply chain for Mr Pinca to help respond to this information gap. The centre provided an overview of the production, quality and functional properties of Australian wheat, and organised visits to a grain-growing property, plant breeders and a commercial bakery.

In the Philippines, flour is mostly used for baked goods (55 per cent), including traditional pan de sal, loaf bread and cakes, followed by noodle production (22 per cent), and biscuits and crackers (18 per cent).

Mr Pinca says the greatest potential for Australian milling wheat was in blends with the typically stronger (higher protein) North American wheats.

“If Australian wheat could make up 20 per cent of a blend that is a significant amount, considering the Philippines’ population is 100 million people.” Per capita wheat consumption is almost 18 kilograms a year and this is expected to increase as the local economy grows.

AEGIC program leader Barry Cox says Mr Pinca’s tour followed AEGIC’s visit to the Philippines in 2013, when flour millers expressed an interest in learning more about Australian wheat.

“Our wheat is highly valued across South-East Asia, but we don’t have a significant share in the Philippine milling market,” Mr Cox says.

“By working with the Philippine Association of Flour Millers, AEGIC aims to learn more about the market’s end-product requirements and to find avenues for increasing the value of Australian wheat in the Philippines,” Mr Cox says.

More information:

Barry Cox, AEGIC,
08 9368 3785,

www.aegic.org.au

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GRDC Project Code AEG00005

Region National, Overseas