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New centre to boost value of WA grain industry

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A new research venture which focuses on boosting the value of WA grains beyond the farm gate was officially opened in Perth today.

The Centre for Grain Food Innovation (CGFI) is a collaboration between the CSIRO, Curtin University of Technology and Department of Agriculture and Food, to develop new grain food products for international markets.

Work will be led by the Research Director Dr Sumana Bell with a key focus on understanding how milling and baking processes can be best matched to the characteristics of WA grains, to improve the consumer product and ultimately boost the value of WA grains.

  • The Centre will include the following research projects:
    Developing mathematical models for analysing dough structure and strength for delivering quality bread products.
  • Identifying processes that maximise the function of Australian wheat for the manufacture of breads and premium noodles.
  • Processing technology for lupin-enriched wheat flour mixes for instant noodles and flat breads in South-East Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

Australian wheat, particularly from WA, is highly valued and widely used in export markets for noodle production but suffers from the perception that it is less suited to bread making, even though it is being used in Australia to make superior quality breads.

Department principal research officer Dr Mark Sweetingham said the Centre aimed to further enhance the use of WA grain in Asia and the Middle East.

“The grains industry is the largest WA agriculture sector and has a major export focus in which it faces both new challenges and opportunities from increasingly sophisticated markets and consumers,” Dr Sweetingham said.

“The CGFI will focus largely on wheat, with research aimed at achieving premium product specifications from lower protein wheat. Importantly, the activities of the CGFI will be complementary to existing grain quality research that supports wheat breeding across Australia.”

CSIRO Food Futures Flagship grains theme leader Dr Matthew Morell said Australia needed to continue to increase its competitiveness and profile in the international wheat market.

“By working with flour millers and processors, the Centre’s research will focus on issues of direct relevance to the industry in areas of post farm gate value-adding,” Dr Morell said.

“The proximity of WA to key export markets and the opportunity to work closely with the downstream industries is a great opportunity for delivering impact via the Centre’s research.

“While focussed initially on WA, this research will be applicable right across the country for the entire Australian wheat crop.”

The Centre will also examine the opportunity to effectively use other grains such as barley, canola and lupins which have the potential to provide healthier products.

Curtin’s Charlie Thorn, chair of the Collaboration and Investment Committee for the CGFI, said the University was uniquely placed to contribute to the new Centre.

“As the only university in WA to offer training in food science and technology, Curtin has the resources and expertise to research and advance the development of healthier food products,” Mr Thorn said.

“Our key focus will be helping to develop products that can yield the highest positive health impact for consumers.

“With Curtin, CSIRO and the Department of Agriculture and Food as collaborators, the new Centre has the necessary infrastructure to significantly value-add to the WA grain industry.”

Media contacts:
Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, department media liaison –  9368 3937/3325
Charlie Thorn, Curtin – 9266 9062�
Dr Matthew Morell, CSIRO- 02 6246 5074

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