THE chief executive of south east Asian flour miller Interflour has shaken up the debate surrounding Australian grain standards, saying falling numbers receival standards are currently set higher than they need to be for end users.
Greg Harvey said his company could easily create product with a falling numbers test reading of 100 seconds before the plunger sinks to the bottom.
Currently, Australian regulations are for a falling numbers test reading of at least 300 seconds.
The falling numbers test is designed to measure increased levels of alpha amylase which breaks down starch, meaning decreased performance of the flour in baking applications.
Issues with falling numbers generally occur after harvest rain causes sprouting.
Mr Harvey said for the instant noodle market, which is the major market sector through south-east Asia, his company could meet market requirements with wheat with lower falling numbers, some staining and with a higher ash content than what is currently prescribed under Grain Trade Australia (GTA) standards.
Western Australian Grains Group (WAGG) chairman Doug Clarke said it was disappointing to see Australian growers paid feed wheat prices for grain that can be used for human consumption.
“Clearly the receival standards for falling numbers are too onerous," Mr Clarke said.
“The minimum falling numbers for feed at CBH is 62 - any lower than this and the farmers have to take their wheat home, why, when the wheat can still be used.”
Geoff Honey, executive director of GTA, which is responsible for national grain delivery standards, said it was good to receive feedback from international customers.
"We welcome all feedback in regards to standards and recognise it is a continually evolving space. The matter will be passed on to our standards committee,” he said.
Mr Harvey said the requirements for two-minute noodles meant breeders should look at high yielding ASW or even feed lines to supply cheap bulk flour for this product.
At the other end of the scale, he said an AH hard wheat, with better water absorption could help break the stranglehold of North American wheat varieties in the region’s bread markets.
The feed quality wheat could not be used on its own, but would need to be blended, and would still incur a price discount compared to milling wheat, but perhaps the discount would not be as substantial.
Mr Harvey welcomed GTA’s willingness to listen to new requirements in terms of grain standards.
“For too long it has been all about protein and screenings, but there are other things we are looking for,” he said.
Mr Harvey nominated gluten levels as a key performance trait that flour millers wanted to monitor.
“Some markets will pay on gluten levels and it is something that is easy to test for," he said.
“Russia already tests for gluten, it can be done with an Infratec machine, so it is not going to be difficult to do the testing.
“There’s lots of things we flour millers would like to test for, but having worked in the other side of the supply chain, I realise in terms of minimising turnaround times you can’t test for everything at the silo.
“This test, would be easy to do and could add value to the Australian crop.”
Mr Harvey said the issue was not so much a preference for high gluten levels but a need for consistency.
“We get variations of up to 20pc - what we want are stable gluten levels so we can work with the product.”
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