Australian Noodle Wheat could be the answer Asian flour millers are searching for as they struggle to source soft wheat for cookies and cakes following severe drought in the US.
Growers in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA suffered through devastating heat and drought this year and production of US Soft White (SW) wheat was badly impacted. This has resulted in extremely limited soft wheat options for Asian flour millers and has driven SW prices through the roof.
Some soft wheat buyers have been paying more than AUD$100/tonne above last season.
An expected bumper crop of low protein Australian Noodle Wheat this season, coupled with an unusual undersupply of soft wheat from the US, presents a rare opportunity for Australian growers, backed up by research from the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC).
Investigations already carried out by AEGIC with flour mills in South East Asia demonstrated that low protein Australian Noodle Wheat has acceptable performance for cookies.
To stimulate demand for this year’s low protein ANW, AEGIC hosted a special industry meeting attended by 80 people across Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and the Australian grain trade.
Project leader Dr Siem Siah said AEGIC’s study was completed as part of a wider project to rekindle soft wheat exports from Australia.
“Low protein Australian Noodle Wheat provides an excellent short-term solution for Asian mills, with production expected to be significant this season following above average rainfall,” she said.
“In the long term Australia will need to produce true soft wheat types to compete in this market,” she said.
Demand for soft wheat in South East Asia is increasing, with the total market size expected to be 3.6 mmt by 2030. Australia has significantly shorter delivery times and lower freight costs for South East Asia, providing additional value for Australian soft wheat supply.
AEGIC CEO Richard Simonaitis said the current unusual circumstances presented an excellent opportunity for Australian Noodle Wheat growers.
“It’s reasonable to expect that there would be significant premiums across the ANW range this season thanks to the demand pressure create by the US shortfall,” he said.
“It is also likely that prices for soft wheat will be high in 2022. The drought conditions in the US have continued and are impacting the sowing of their next crop.
“Australian growers will have more information on this before they sow next season and AEGIC will provide updates on market circumstances.”
AEGIC is an investment of the Australian Government through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), and the Western Australian Government through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).