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Early analysis of raw material ensures constant flour quality

12 February 20214 min reading

Peter Steiner

Peter Steiner Global Head of Business Unit Mühlenchemie

The 2020 harvest and the outlook for 2021 show that the variability of wheat availability is increasing. While worldwide wheat production is stable at a high level, at the regional level there are substantial discrepancies. This requires mills to regularly adjust their raw material sourcing. As consumer expectations and cost pressures rise, mills need to purchase wheat cost-effectively while delivering high quality products. Mühlenchemie helps its customers do this, with its knowledge and with service that starts long before the wheat is made into flour.

The wheat market is in a state of permanent and dramatic flux. Every new harvest presents great challenges to mills around the world. Due to economic, political and climatic factors, the availability, prices and qualities of wheat change year by year. This trend is only intensifying in the current 2020/2021 harvest season. For example, Australia is returning to the world market as a major producer, and Russia and India have increased their exports. On the other hand, the harvest was weaker in Europe due to recurring drought. These factors lead to fluctuations in prices and quality. For mills, this means that they have to constantly adjust their sourcing and choice of suppliers to adjust for global wheat market shifts. What does remain consistent is their customers’ expectations in terms of product quality. This makes wheat purchasing a key factor in the profitability of a mill.

Mühlenchemie helps over 2000 mills in more than 130 countries to meet these challenges. Its expert teams in Germany, Mexico, Singapore, India, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Nigeria standardise in excess of 100 million tonnes of wheat for their customers every year. The company knows the latest requirements of manufacturers, what new wheat lots are on the market, and what results are possible with what processing. In the Stern-Technology Center in Ahrensburg, Germany, Mühlenchemie’s applications technicians analyse wheat samples from around the world, especially from the big exporters like Russia, the US, Canada, France and Australia. The resulting data is collected, prepared and shared with customers. This information can also be used as a criterion for selecting a source.

Mühlenchemie The results of the automatic milling machine in Ahrensburg are very nearly identical to those of industrial mills, so that suitable solutions can be developed in the lab.

The earlier the quality of a new batch of wheat can be evaluated, the easier it is to make adjustments in routine operations. In order to give mills certainty when deciding which wheat to purchase, the company has continuously expanded and added functions to its milling laboratory in Ahrensburg. Wheat samples are taken as ships are loaded, and flown to the Mühlenchemie lab. While the bulk of the wheat is underway by ship, the samples are analysed. Within a few days, the miller gets information on the composition and processing characteristics of the flour. When the wheat shipment reaches the mill, the miller already knows how to make the optimum wheat mixture. Production can begin immediately under the desired parameters, without having to make changes in real time operation.

The automatic milling machine in Ahrensburg can mill grain in stages in six passages. The extraction rate can be varied by adjusting the milling gap and sieve mesh. The results are very nearly identical to those of industrial mills, so that suitable solutions can be developed in the lab. The flour is then tested in baking trials, in order to get the ideal results from flour analysis to product development. This can range from a few hundred grams of whole-grain flour from the falling number mill for a short examination of enzyme activity, to the production of several kilograms of refined flour for a complete rheological evaluation including application testing. The most recent laboratory investments were in climate chambers in which regional ambient humidity and temperature conditions can be simulated.

flour quality Wheat samples are taken as ships are loaded, and flown to the Mühlenchemie lab. While the bulk of the wheat is underway by ship, the samples are analysed.

These analyses give mills the knowledge they need for optimum purchase and production planning. Thus, regardless of the target market or application, they can find the right solutions for anything that can be made from flour, be it rolls, flat bread, formed bread, freely set bread, biscuits, wafers or pasta.

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