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Japan Reaffirms Strong Demand for WA Noodle Wheat

29 February 2012

AUSTRALIA & JAPAN - Japan has declared a strong demand for Western Australian noodle wheat following a shortfall in supply as a result of poor production in 2010.

Noodle wheat is used in Japan for the production of high quality Udon noodles, a market WA has supplied for 20 years. WA was unable to supply the required quantity and quality to Japan during 2011, largely due to tough seasonal conditions.

The Department of Agriculture and Food WA, working in conjunction with the Grains Industry Association of WA, has undertaken extensive collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to restore and maintain confidence that WA growers could meet demand when seasonal production returned to normal.

Department Grains Industry Genetic and Product Innovation Director Robert Loughman said Japan buys wheat for Udon noodle production in a blend made up of noodle and Australian Premium White (APW) wheat, preferred by the Japanese milling industry at the historic ratio of 60 per cent noodle and 40 per cent APW.

“After the 2010 dry season, Japan accepted shipments with half the normal amount of noodle wheat in the blend, down to 30 per cent, in order to have continuity of supply through 2011,” Dr Loughman said.

“This change in blend affected the quality of the noodles produced in Japan with feedback received from flour millers and consumers in Japan indicating noodle quality had suffered, potentially threatening this long-term market.”

With 2011 a better production year, the department and industry partners have worked together with MAFF and the Japanese Flour Millers Association to ensure the blend returned to 60 per cent noodle wheat.

“The Japanese market’s announcement of a return to normal blend ratios with 60 per cent noodle wheat is very positive news for grain growers,” Dr Loughman said.

“It is important to maintain this valuable market which has traditionally been supplied solely from WA. The $500 million Japanese noodle market is one of WA’s major wheat markets.”

Deputy Director Grain Trade and Operation Division of MAFF (Japan) Mr Yasuchi Uchikawa said MAFF was very pleased that the noodle blend could return to their preferred ratio for the production of high quality noodles.

“MAFF will continue working with the Western Australian grains industry to manage our noodle wheat requirements,” Mr Uchikawa said.

“Western Australian noodle wheat is very important to Japan and we want to ensure there is ongoing and stable supply of noodle wheat for Japan.”

TheCropSite News Desk

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