U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) used Market Access Program (MAP) funding to test and demonstrate the true performance of soft white (SW) wheat after a severe drought changed the typical protein levels in the 2021 crop.
Typical U.S. SW wheat protein is around 9% to 10% but the 2021 Pacific Northwest drought pushed average protein to 11%. That was a concern to Taiwan’s flour millers who rely on SW to produce excellent quality cake and confectionary products. To help millers understand how higher protein SW would perform, USW collaborated with the China Grain Products Research & Development Institute (CGPRDI) in Taipei to conduct a milling and application seminar in December 2021.
An analysis of typical SW flour compared to the higher protein 2021 SW crop showed the millers that the higher protein wheat flour maintained expected weak gluten strength and baking characteristics. Tests with a flour blend including 75% of the higher protein SW from 2021 showed that sponge cakes and refrigerated cookies had similar baking performance and mouth-feel as products made with 9% protein SW.
Sharing these results with quality control and research and development staff from Taiwanese flour mills was an important activity to reassure these important customers who rely on U.S. SW and other wheat classes every year.
Overcoming dramatically higher prices for the smaller 2021 crop has proven more difficult. But Taiwan customers did not abandon SW wheat for competing supplies from Canada nor Australia. Soft white 2021/22 commercial sales of 109,000 metric tons valued at $45 million are down 22% from 2020/21. Taiwan was the seventh largest SW buyer in the world for the year, providing a strong foundation for a return to more typical imports in the years ahead.