30 years of udon noodle sensory evaluation

08 October, 2019

The official 2019 udon noodle sensory evaluation program is underway at AEGIC, as Western Australia and Japan celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the unique noodle wheat segregation.

Since 1989, 13 highly-trained Japanese noodle specialists have visited Australia to help assess unreleased wheat varieties that have been purpose-bred for Japanese udon noodles.

AEGIC Wheat Quality Technical Markets Manager Dr Larisa Cato said sensory evaluation was a core pillar of the special noodle relationship between Western Australia and Japan.

“AEGIC runs the sensory program in collaboration with the Japan Flour Millers Association,” she said.

“Australian breeding companies submit their advanced, unreleased noodle wheat varieties to the panel to see if they’re up to scratch for the discerning Japanese market.

“We mill the wheat samples into flour and then make the noodles in-house here at AEGIC before putting them through rigorous assessment for quality.”

A visiting noodle expert from the Japan Flour Millers Association is with AEGIC for a month this October to help with noodle sensory evaluation.

Dr Cato said sensory assessment was largely about mouthfeel and appearance.

“The perfect udon noodles should have a ‘mochi mochi’ mouthfeel,” she said.

“Mochi mochi is a unique balance of softness and firmness, combined with good elasticity and a slight stickiness.

“As for appearance, udon noodles should have a creamy, bright slightly yellow colour which is stable, so noodles made today will look similar tomorrow.”

Dr Cato paid tribute to Dr Graham Crosbie, the WA Department of Agriculture cereal scientist who successfully lobbied for the noodle wheat segregation back in 1989.

“Building on pioneering research by Jack Toms and others, Graham recognised that there was a rare opportunity to build a unique, high-value market which would benefit not only Japanese consumers, but WA  growers as well,” she said.

“Without Graham’s vision, the highly successful and mutually beneficial udon noodle relationship between WA and Japan may never have happened.”

Industry leaders from Western Australia and Japan gathered in Perth on 7 October to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Australian Noodle Wheat (ANW) segregation.

AEGIC is an initiative of the Western Australian State Government and Australia’s Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Media contact
Keir Tunbridge
0409 991 817

Background and history of the noodle wheat segregation

  • AEGIC has run the noodle sensory evaluation program since 2013, having taken over from the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (now DPIRD).
  • During the late 1970s and 1980s, Japan realised that wheat from Western Australia was excellent for traditional Japanese udon noodles, which have unique and strict quality requirements.
  • This was due to a wheat variety called “Gamenya”.
  • Gamenya became popular with Western Australian growers in the mid-1960s following a devastating epidemic of stem rust. Gamenya had the best rust resistance at the time and was well-suited to WA.
  • Gamenya was a leading variety for 20 years until the mid-1980s, when growers began planting higher-yielding varieties. Gamenya production dropped drastically.
  • By this time, Japan had come to rely on Western Australian shipments of the wheat class “Australian Standard White” (ASW) to make udon noodles.
  • The reduced amount of Gamenya in ASW exports from Western Australia meant lower quality noodles in Japan.
  • At the same time, a new variety “Eradu” was released with similar qualities to Gamenya.
  • In March 1989, at a wheat industry seminar, Dr Graham Crosbie, a cereal chemist with the WA Department of Agriculture, publicly called for a brand-new noodle wheat segregation to be immediately established.
  • This would go down in history as the spark which led to the noodle wheat segregation.
  • The new segregation would concentrate the dwindling supplies of the key noodle wheat varieties to ensure shipments to Japan contained the right types of wheat for udon.
  • Importantly, the segregation would return guaranteed price premiums to growers to support their profitability and encourage the production of noodle wheat.
  • While controversial at the time, this ultimately proved to be highly successful. Noodle wheat production increased, value was increased for growers, and Japan had their udon noodles.
  • The ongoing success of this special relationship between WA and Japan is down to the fact that it is mutually beneficial and each partner is prepared to invest resources to ensure its success.
  • Western Australia continues to invest in new, improved noodle wheat varieties. Japan regularly sends visiting experts to help assess unreleased varieties.
  • On behalf of the WA noodle wheat industry, AEGIC (Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre), CBH and GIWA (Grain Industry Association of WA) leads the relationship with Japan and provides technical support, crop reports and resources to address any seasonal issues that arise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo: the noodle wheat industry working together

WA noodle wheat growers Steph and Barry Clarke (Bolgart)

Dr Graham Crosbie

Shunsuke Otsubo (the second visiting Japanese noodle expert – 1991).

Mr Otsubo is holding a sheaf of Ninja noodle wheat.

More News

21 April, 2021

AEGIC behind the scenes: Australian wheat for Asian noodles

The Japanese udon noodle market is Australia’s most stable premium wheat market. Japanese noodle lovers know what they like when they’re tucking into a delicious bowl of udon or ramen noodles. AEGIC runs a highly-trained udon noodle sensory evaluation program with the Japanese Flour Millers Association (JFMA) to ensure new Australian wheat varieties meet Japan’s strict requirements. […]

15 April, 2021

Enhancing noodle texture and colour

Asian flour millers prefer to buy Australian wheat for noodles because of its bright, stable colour and good texture. Thanks to a landmark AEGIC research project*, we know that noodle colour, colour stability, and texture are among the most important factors that flour millers look for when buying wheat for noodles. The research found that […]

13 April, 2021

50 – The Rise of the Middle Class

02 March, 2021

Whole grain for better health

Increasing whole grain consumption represents a major opportunity and challenge for the food industry. Extensive evidence now shows the connection between whole grain consumption and reduced risk of several chronic diet-related diseases. Greater intake of whole grains in the diet leads to reduced incidence of cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, and diabetes. To address this […]

26 February, 2021

AGIC Asia 2021 to reach Asian feed and whole grain buyers

The Australian Grain Industry Conference 2021 will feature a special session led by AEGIC on the benefits of Australian grains for animal feed, and the health benefits of whole grains for human consumption. AGIC Asia, which will be held virtually this year on Wednesday 3 March 2021, is a key date on the grain industry […]

05 February, 2021

Stimulating Australian feed grain demand in the Philippines and Thailand

Feed grain buyers in the Philippines and Thailand learned the compelling benefits of using Australian feed grains for swine following two well-attended AEGIC webinars this week. The webinars, presented in conjunction with Austrade, featured experienced Australian feed nutrition expert Tony Edwards as keynote speaker. The Philippines event attracted 150 representatives of the grain and animal […]

23 November, 2020

Statement regarding Grains Australia CEO appointment

The Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) welcomes the appointment of Jonathan Wilson as the inaugural CEO of Grains Australia. AEGIC Chairman Ron Storey said the formation of Grains Australia was a significant milestone for the Australian grains industry. “Grains Australia will consolidate important industry good services and functions across the grains value chain,” he […]

19 November, 2020

Whole grain wheat: healthy for mi and youtiao

Youtiao – a type of fried bread stick popular all across Asia – could represent an opportunity to get healthy Australian whole grain wheat in the diets of health-conscious Asian consumers. Food lovers throughout Asia are becoming more and more interested in whole grain foods and their many health benefits, and flour millers are starting […]

12 November, 2020

Strengthening Australia’s wheat bond with Indonesia

A virtual seminar on the value and quality of Australian wheat attracted nearly 70 Indonesian flour millers and food manufacturers interested in the advantages of using Aussie wheat for noodles, bread and cakes. Hosted by AEGIC, and featuring CBH Grain and breeding company InterGrain, the event was part of the Australian Government’s IA-CEPA* Business Connect […]

Slider