PORTLAND, OREGON, U.S. — A team of major Taiwanese wheat processors and a group of 34 wheat growers from Prosser, Washington, U.S., had a rare opportunity to talk shop and share ideas recently at the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Oregon, U.S.

The Taiwanese processors were part of the End Products Collaborative (EPC) project conducted by the WMC, sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). The team of major food processors from Taiwan studied and experimented with blending hard red winter (HRW) or hard red spring (HRS) with soft white (SW) to improve traditional wheat product quality and to formulate a replacement for Australian standard white (ASW) and Australian hard white (AHW) wheat.

Horse Heaven Grain, LLC, arrived mid-week, led by Prosser Branch Manager Kathy Ripplinger.

“Wheat Marketing Center often conducts wheat quality workshops for farmers. Whenever wheat buyers and wheat farmers can get together at Wheat Marketing Center life is good,” said Dr. David Shelton, WMC executive director.

The group had a packed day in their wheat quality workshop at the WMC where sheeted noodles, steamed breads, and flat breads were made and taste-tested.

Of particular interest to these SW wheat growers, was the desire of the Taiwan wheat food processors for higher protein SW wheat for steamed bread and noodle products.

“Japan buys SW wheat at a less-than 10.5% protein level. Now, we may have found a niche market in Taiwan for limited quantities of 10.5% or greater protein SW wheat for blending purposes,” said Steve Wirsching, director of the West Coast Office of U.S. Wheat Associates. “Segregating by protein level should not be a big problem for our country elevators and wheat farmers as we do most of it already for the Japanese requirements. However, in the past few years, average protein levels have been low. With the results and success of the blending done at this workshop, we have found a most favorable conclusion to both market needs.”

Taiwan food processer, miller, and baker team members included:

  • Cheng-Chang Chen, vice-president of Chia Fha Enterprise Company, Ltd.;
  • Ruey-Lin Liang, director of research and development and quality control, Top Food Industry Corp.;
  • Hsiang-Ling Wang, researcher scientist, Uni-President Enterprises Corp.; and
  • Min-Heng Chiou, quality control section chief, Sing-Lin Foods Corp.

Team leader was Shu-Ying (Sophia) Yang, technologist in USW’s Taipei office.

WMC’s Technical Director and Asian Foods Specialist Dr. Gary Hou disclosed that nine different flour blends were developed to facilitate this scientific research for Taiwan steamed breads and noodles.

“Some of the blends at this workshop had never been tested or used before in the production of these food products in Taiwan,” Hou said, “and, the evaluations were extensive: studying, scoring, and recording for such elements as appearance, color, smoothness, and even how shiny the products are. Bite, taste, flavor, stickiness, eating quality, and aroma were also included in the evaluations.

“Noodles are of particular interest, as color is so important to the consumers, so we score the color the first day of production, then score it again the next day because the product darkens. It’s then time to cook, eat, and evaluate some more,” Hou added. “It’s always interesting to place the cooked noodles in the hot water and let them sit for another five minutes. Then we look again at product texture stability; does it stay firm, or become soggy,” Hou said.

Final reports from the workshop concluded that blending HRW with SW or HRS with SW to the current desired protein level significantly improved the product quality of both steamed breads and noodles.

Knowing Australian Standard White has dominated the Taiwan steamed bread and noodle markets for a lengthy time, Shelton asked the Taiwan team at the conclusion of the reports, “What do you have when you have only one supplier?” Unanimously the team answered “Price is dictated!”

After this workshop, those wheat processors have another source for wheat for noodles and steamed bread: reliable supply and quality wheat from U.S. wheat farmers.