AEGIC in the land of bánh mì…

25 August, 2023

Welcome to the second AEGIC Insider newsletter, your source for insights and information from AEGIC’s recent work in Australia’s key grain markets. Engaging with customers face to face allows us to demonstrate hands-on the specific benefits of Australian wheat and other grains. Importantly, it also gives customers the chance to give us feedback on any issues they may be having with Australian grain quality or supply.

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Vietnam is one of Australia’s most important – and unusual – wheat markets. It is one of the few countries that prefers Australian wheat not only for noodles, but for bread (bánh mì) as well. Australian wheat is known for creating bánh mì with a golden crust and excellent flavour that consumers prefer.

Australia exports on average 1.7 million metric tonnes of wheat to Vietnam, making it our 4th largest wheat market.

AEGIC Wheat Quality Technical Markets Manager Dr Larisa Cato and Senior Economist Dr Chris Carter recently visited Vietnamese flour millers to review key wheat quality traits from previous AEGIC surveys to identify if there have been any changes since the last major survey several years ago. We will continue to monitor and feed information back to the Australian industry.

Also on the agenda: investigating new uses for Australia’s udon noodle wheat classes (Australian Noodle Wheat (ANW) and Australian Premium White Noodle (APWN)) to identify if there are opportunities for products other than udon, such as steamed buns and fried dough snacks.

And of course, no flour mill visit is complete without some hands-on baking to benchmark key Australian wheat classes and varieties. Creating evidence of Vietnamese quality preferences for bread helps keep the Australian wheat industry armed with the information it needs to keep supplying wheat that customers want.

Time to bake

The term “bánh mì” means “bread”, and usually refers to a short baguette. It’s often eaten as a breakfast food or snack dipped in condensed milk. Bánh mì filled with Vietnamese-style meat and vegetable fillings is also popular in Vietnam and around the world, including Australia.

Bánh mì should have a crisp, golden crust and strong, yet soft texture. Most millers prefer Australian wheat to achieve the best colour, flavour and aroma.

Quality preferences for bánh mì have remained consistent, but the methods of production and sale are evolving. Increasingly, bakeries are investing into automated production. Consistent wheat quality is important, along with a need for dough stability, strength and a higher tolerance to fermentation.

After mixing the bánh mì dough, the gluten quality is checked.

Hand moulding and rolling the bánh mì.

The dough is proofed and rested before creating the famous cut.

Each bánh mì is expertly cut. The “wing” creates the signature look of the bánh mì and also helps with volume and crust.

You can’t beat the aroma of freshly baked bánh mì…

Australian wheat: better crust colour, excellent aroma, superior crumb colour, and better texture and taste.

New uses for Australian noodle wheat?

While in Vietnam, Dr Cato and Dr Carter continued our investigations into potential new uses for Australia’s udon noodle wheat classes, including steamed buns and fried dough sticks (quẩy/youtiao). Early benchmarking results look promising. This project is still in the early stages and more education and training is required to increase awareness of the value of Australia’s noodle wheat classes.

Quẩy/youtiao dough is fermented before being sheeted.

The dough is cut into strips and hand rolled.

The dough is fried and assessed for quality.

Steamed buns can be made with many fillings. On the menu here is a traditional pork bun.

The art of folding to make the “rose” steamed bun.

The assessment: important attributes include volume, shape, colour (skin and crumb), crumb structure, mouthfeel (firmness and chewiness), aroma and flavour.

Consumers look for crispiness, firmness, colour, shape and size in their quẩy/youtiao. For steamed buns, white colour is preferred, along with a firm and chewy mouthfeel and excellent flavour. Early results suggest Australia’s noodle wheat classes have potential for these products, and our investigations will continue.

Vietnam will remain an important market for Australian wheat and we look forward to getting back there soon. Stay tuned for more updates from our recent in-market engagement.

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