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Flour correctors for the Chinese market in the spotlight.

03/21/2013 Bühler customer event in Nanning, China.

The Chinese economy is growing year on year. As a result of this development, the consumption pattern of the population is changing – self-sufficient people are becoming consumers and, with more and more people moving to the cities and urban areas, this trend is set to continue. Naturally, this is also having an impact on the flour market in China. The demand for flour correctors is constantly increasing. With two of its own companies, Bühler is active in the Chinese market for flour correctors and, in 2012, invited a host of representatives from the worlds of business, politics and science to a forum in Nanning held over several days, which was dedicated to the topic of flour and flour optimization.

Thanks to its huge population, China is one of the biggest markets for grain-based foods such as different breads, steamed buns and other bakery products. The quality standards for the milling and the bakery industries in the modern Chinese market are increasing, in addition there is a greater need for transparency in terms of food safety aspects.

A fluctuating raw material quality needs to be balanced out by applying specific flour correctors. Bühler customers also face stiff competition from other key suppliers, putting pressure on profit margins. The higher requirements of urban customers, who prefer excellent quality for bakery products are also an increasingly important market driver.

Bühler has its own food ingredient production in China
With Bühler Food Ingredients (Guangzhou) and Bangsheng Bio-Technology Co. Ltd., Bühler owns two local flour corrector mixing plants in China. Flour correctors that improve the specific volume of bakery products and their color as well as shelf life are particularly high in demand. Because semi or finished baked products are shipped over long distances in China, there is a high demand for to preserve freshness and to increase shelf life. Strong water binding capacity thanks to flour correctors increases the shelf life and ensures visually pleasing products. The improved water binding also allows bakeries to increase their productivity, because higher water absportion in the dough means a higher yield during production. The lighter - whitish color of flours in China is related to the cultural background. Flours that are most whitish and light in color and also produce light-colored bakery products, such as Mantau or steamed buns, are most preferred in China. In the past, chemical bleaching substances were used that were not really safe. The new and stricter food regulation in China led to the development of improved and more safe solutions that are part of Bühler’s flour ingredient portfolio.

As ingredient suppliers, the two wholly owned subsidiaries of Bühler AG stand for reliability, transparency and food safety. The Chinese customers greatly appreciate the fact that ingredients are named accordingly and clearly specified. Bühler’s overall expertise with regard to production safety standards, traceability and food safety is also recognized and incorporated into business relations.

The Flour Quality Forum – important platform for the industry
For the first time in Bühler’s history, a forum was held with the two subsidiaries and their customers, with focus on new grains, flour qualities and as well on specific ingredients and potential product optimizations. This two-day Flour Quality Forum in Nanning, with key decision makers and experts in the bakery and milling industry, was an excellent platform for a lively exchange of information and for extensive discussions. Speakers from all over the world addressed highly relevant topics related to the Chinese market, they got to the heart of the latest knowledge that is important for the current and future development of new bakery products and the industry. These key presentations were rounded off by government representatives who spoke about general aspects regarding food quantity and food safety that concern the Chinese market.

Speakers at this year’s meeting included one of the founders of the AACC, Dr. Ian Batey from Australia, Dr. Gary Hou from the Wheat Marketing Center, Portland, USA, Prof. Di Youqing from the China National Committee for Standardization of Rice and Flour Products and Director Wan Fushi from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. More than 100 participants from throughout China came to the event, in particular from the administration and development departments of mills and food-production companies.

Various topics were discussed at the forum: from wheat and flour quality, food safety, grain processing machines and standardizations in food production through to innovative baking enzymes and quality assurance for flour products.

During the Flour Quality Forum, products from partners were also presented. For example, DSM provided a first insight into the new enzyme applications, while Bühler presented some new flour corrector applications for processing flour and bakery products. Brabender demonstrated the latest laboratory devices for analyzing flour.

Dr. Peter C. Böhni from the Bühler Bakery Innovation Center in Switzerland demonstrated how food safety for mills and bakery product manufacturers can be increased through specific measures in a day-to-day operations. He also explained the problems that can occur if dough is not stored, transported or processed properly. He concluded that a number of problems regarding food safety can be prevented by applying simple means.

During the discussion afterwards, it was clear that, thanks to decades of experience in flour production, Bühler is an expert contact partner when companies are seeking ways to increase productivity as well as food safety in a day-to-day operation. With new technologies, intelligent retrofits or customer-specific flour correctors, processes and products can be optimized that generate clear added value for Bühler customers. Good training courses and enhancing awareness among employees also help to manufacture the products safely and thus create a sustainable basis for growth in the market.

Increasing investment in future-oriented technologies, automation concepts for tracking product batches, and high quality flour correctors shows that China has recognized that it has some catching up to do with regard to food safety and wants to do this quickly.

An intensive two days of exchanging information were followed by two rather sociable days in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many conversations were held, new contacts made and business potential discussed.

Dr. Peter C. Böhni
Managing Director Nutrition Solutions
Bühler Group Uzwil, Switzerland

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