ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA — Bühler Bangsheng Food Ingredients China organized a flour seminar Oct. 10-11 in Zhangjiajie, China. Over 230 major customers and partners from the flour milling and baking industry in China attended the two-day event, which featured 12 speakers.

The seminar aimed to provide a wide range of the latest knowledge and information on millers’ market challenges and opportunities, flour quality, product innovation, healthy grains, milling solutions, digitalization and intelligent mill.

“The speakers at the seminar gave us a lot of valuable information, knowledge and solutions to share with our customers in the milling and baking industry,” said David Wang, president of Bühler Asia. “By providing a forum for this exchange of views and transfer of knowledge, we are sure the millers will meet those challenges in their future work.”

Millers Marketing Trends, challenges

Michael Gusko, managing director of GoodMills Innovation in Germany, from GoodMills Group, one of Europe’s largest milling companies, discussed the European flour market, characterized by high overcapacity, during his presentation of “How to Penetrate an Oversaturated Market.”

European flour millers are faced with myriad challenges, said Gusko, noting that there is a fierce battle for market share on that continent with limited growth potential.

 “Succeeding in an oversaturated market is a challenge,” he said. “The flour millers are fighting over who is going to get which piece of cake. Therefore, the European flour market is survival of the fittest and only highest efficiency secures yields.”

In connection to the health and wellness trends, Gusko noted the global changes in consumer’s behavior, such as less fat, sugar, and salt, more fiber and whole grain consumption, less chemical additives, and gluten-free products.

Kevin Linggi, associate global marketing manager of Novozymes Denmark, reported on the global bread market and key trends. He noted the baking industry is also under pressure of saturated markets with limited growth potential, and the price wars in the retail market negatively influence the market value.

“Customers are seeking more ‘natural’ options and consumers wish to avoid certain additives in the bread recipe,” Linggi said. “Health-conscious consumers are getting more interested in new health-oriented products launches focused on ancient and alternative grains, whole and multiple grains, high fiber, high protein, less carbohydrates, and gluten free.”

He indicated a strong growth for baked foods in China and observed digitalization is targeting young consumers to share and consume while allowing a change in distribution.

Walter von Reding, head of Flour Service at the Bühler Group, Uzwil, Switzerland, noted five mega global trends such as aging population increase, mass urbanization, rising middle class, digital consumers and sustainability.

“Key challenges we will face in the future include food supply worldwide, suffering from poverty and malnutrition, problems with energy balance (eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cardiovascular disease), aging population issues, increased concerns about food safety, and higher demands for transparency and sustainable solutions,” von Reding said.

Value creation through innovation

“Challenges means always also opportunities,” Gusko said during his second presentation: “Value Creation Through Innovation.”

“We are creating a better world with innovations,” he said.

To meet the challenges, he spoke of the importance of innovation and GoodMills’ solution contributions to the seminar audience.

Gusko introduced GoodMills Innovation’s four meta principles and practices, committed to continuous innovation in the grain-based foods field. They are: understanding the needs of customers and consumers; developing and implementing innovative solutions to meet customer-specific processes and parameters; using the advances in science and technology for product development and selecting wide grain varieties to ensure optimum performance.

“An innovative product needs to fulfill at least one of the following five conditions to be considered an innovation: to improve the quality of customer’s products; to increase the added value for the end consumer; to save customer’s costs; to improve the sustainability; and to ensure the product safety,” he said.

Two innovative GoodMills ingredient products were demonstrated with improving the functionality of flour: heat-treated wheat flour with improved binding capability and heat-treated waxy wheat flour superior in cream soups and frozen tomato soups.

Linggi and von Reding showed many examples of new product innovations in baked foods including whole and alternative grains, ancient grains and local crops as high fiber and high protein, low in sugar and less salt, and any other new “healthy” products. Consumers are calling for innovation that departs from the traditional industry values.

Von Reding also noted a considerable growth in the consumption of pulses over the past decade for the health and nutrition benefits to consumers with high protein and fiber, and gluten free. To meet a broad range of different applications to add value with pulses, Bühler has been a leading provider of integrated solutions for optimized processing of pulses, he said.

He described the health benefits of whole grains for reducing risks of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and colon cancer. Von Reding showed Bühler whole grain flour technologies. The application of Sortex (color and bichromatic sorting technology) and light peeling was particularly emphasized for sorting and contaminant reduction.

Dr. Albert Chiu, technical director of Lam Soon Hong Kong Group, presented “Characteristic Features of Specialty Flour for Industrial Clients and Key Accounts and importance of Technical Services for these Customers.”

He summarized that effective customized optimization solutions are achieved by finding out customers’ commercial, R&D and product quality requirements via effective communication/probing and design of experiment. This solution-based technical support together with customized flour, in the long run, will help to achieve partnership with customers by adding value.

Junlan Zhao, application lab manager at Chopin Technologies China, analyzed the reasons for the quality defects of some Chinese flour-based products during her presentation. She concluded that starch damage of flour had a significant impact on the quality of traditional Chinese flour products, and Chopin Lab Devices are helpful in assessing the flour quality.

Frank Schuhmann, technical sales and marketing manager, Lallemand Baking Solutions, Canada, introduced the application of Florapan flavor bacteria and flavor yeast in baking, aimed at innovative development of premium breads with unique flavor.

At the end of the seminar session, Tao Kan, sales director, Haas China, a new member of Bühler Group, described how to apply Haas technologies and processes to produce tasty products like wafers, waffles, cookies, biscuits, cakes and crackers. Haas technologies and process expertise completes Bühler’s technology portfolio with integrated solution from grain to final baked foods for tasty final consumer goods.

Digitalization and intelligent mill

Matthias Greuter, head of R&D Milling Solutions at Bühler Group in Switzerland, gave a presentation of “Digital Business and its Impact on the Milling and Baking Industry.” He said that larger automated plants with increased food safety requirements have been trends in the milling industry. In addition, artisanal bakeries or fully automated production lines have been trends in the baking industry. Intelligence and digitization will become key drivers impacting milling and baking industries.

“Bühler has grown through technology development and constant innovation, and digitization has now been a strategy for Bühler,” he said. “The digital opportunity enables disruptive business models and innovations enable new possibilities. Bühler’s vision is innovations for a better world and the mission is to create added value for the food industry through innovative, data-driven solutions and services.”

He said the focus of Bühler with digitalization in the grain milling industry is on yield improvement quality online analyses and monitoring, operation performance monitoring, product safety and energy monitoring and management. The goal is to engineer customer success.

Jacky Zhang, vice-president of Bühler China, explained Bühler’s intelligent mill solution.

“The objective is to increase flour milling profitability through digitalization, and the customer benefits are increased OEE (operation maintenance), energy reduction, yield increase, improved product safety, and enhanced quality,” he explained.

Zhang said the intelligent mill production line can run autonomously for many hours with Bühler’s reliable equipment equipped with the Wincos control system and intelligent sensors, including automatic gap adjustment of the roller mills and online particle size measurement, intelligent online NIR multi analyzer and color and specks measurement.

Fengcheng Wang is a professor in grain science and technology at Henan University of Technology, and serves as director of the National Engineering Technology Research Center for Grain Processing and Equipment, China, as well as World Grain’s China consultant. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]