Bright, white Australian wheat has a clear advantage over major competitors in the burgeoning Asian wholegrain market, according to research from the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC).
Australian wheat varieties have a white seed coat, while competitor regions - such as North America and the Black Sea - grow wheat with a darker red colour.
Contrasting bran colour
AEGIC general manager of research and services, Dr Ken Quail, says this contrast in bran colour could make all the difference in Asian markets.
"Asian consumers generally prefer bright, stable colour and neutral flavours in wheat-based products," Dr Quail says.
"AEGIC found that red bran not only has a large impact on the colour of wholegrain bread, it also imparts a bitter flavour.
"The white bran of Australian wheat does not have these issues, giving it a significant advantage in Asian countries."
The Australian grains industry can now promote the benefits of using Australian white wheat over red wheat, and establish it as the preferred choice for wholegrain products.
Dr Quail says Asian consumers are increasingly interested in the nutritional and health benefits of wholegrain products.
"The health story of wholegrain products is becoming more and more well-known in Asian markets," he says.
"By 2030, it is estimated that wholegrain products could make up 10 per cent of the bread market in Asia.
"This equates to a one million tonne market worth more than $350 million.
"This uptake is likely to be driven by health authorities in countries that are seeking to reduce the growing burden of health costs."
AEGIC's research involved laboratory analysis of a range of quality and nutritional attributes.
Sensory trials evaluated bread made with red and white bran types to identify the bitterness impact of red bran on flavour.
Export market advantage
Dr Quail says the cleanliness of Australian wheat is also a major advantage for wholegrain products in Australia's export markets.
"Most bacterial and fungal contamination of grain occurs on the surface of the bran and this can become an issue when it is included in wholegrain products," he says.
"Thankfully, Australian wheat has very low levels of contamination - making it a far safer option than wheat supplied from other destinations."
Dr Quail says this is likely to be more important in the future as countries increase their focus on health and food safety following the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Using AEGIC's research, the Australian grains industry can now promote the benefits of using Australian white wheat over red wheat and establish it as the preferred choice for wholegrain products," he says.
AEGIC is an investment of GRDC and the Western Australian State Government.
More information: Dr Ken Quail, email@example.com, 02 8025 3203