“The market of flour improvers in the Middle East is a promising market that is constantly growing with an estimated growth rate of 5% annually. This is the result of the growing number of flour mills and their increased production capacity and competitiveness in Egypt and the region in addition to the large and continuous increase in the population, the increased number of pasta, biscuit and pastry factories and of course due to the quality fluctuation of wheat used by mills.”
Al-Hazaa Investment Group
Al-Hazaa Investment Group owns one of the largest flour mills in Egypt that is located in 6th of October city. Al-Taj Mill is an Egyptian company owned by Al-Hazaa Investment Group that is specialized in wheat milling and flour production, the mill produces different types of flour, such as bread flour, pasta and noodles flour, biscuits flour, cake flour, pizza flour, etc… In addition to many other products that are used in the food production industry such as semolina and others.
Al-Taj Mill and its parent company, Al-Hazaa Investment Group, have a great experience in the field of grain milling. Al-Hazaa Investment Group has a long history in this field and an experience that exceeds 70 years. Al-Taj Mill has also a large market share in the Middle Eastern and Egyptian markets as its one of the largest mills in Egypt with a total production capacity of 1280 tons/ day. The mill is one of the most important flour suppliers in Egypt.
Al-Hazaa Investment Group believes in the importance of customer satisfaction and in the importance of the quality and safety of its products, therefore, all the factories and mills owned by the group use the best equipment and latest technologies and follows the latest trends in their business fields. Likewise, Al-Taj Mill in Egypt uses the best milling machines available in the market that are supplied by the Swiss company Bühler such as the batch mixer, which is a flour mixing machine.
The mill has also a modern quality control laboratory equipped with the most important and most accurate devices for quality control such as Farinograph, Extensograph, GlutoPeak from the German company Brabender. Glutomatic, Falling Number, Inframatic and NIR analyzer devices from Perten are also available at Al-Taj Mill and Alveolab, Mixolab, SDmatic and EM10 Oven from Chopin Technologies in addition to Granulation Plansifter, LabMill and Ash Oven from Bühler and Kadar device for protein analysis.
There is also an integrated bakery for the purpose of controlling products’ quality and conducting rheological and baking examinations. All these devices and processes helped Al-Taj Mill to obtain a unique position in the Egyptian market in the fields of food technology and analysis, research and development as well as the field of training in respect to flour additives and improvers and added vitamins according to the latest scientific standards and global specifications to become one of the leading companies of this industry in Egypt and other countries, of which Al-Hazaa Investment Group operates in like Jordan, UAE, Iraq and Cyprus.
Hence, we would like to clarify the terms of flour additives and flour improvers, and their importance, especially for the food industry and human nutrition. Flour additives can be defined as any substance added to manufactured flour in order to change one or some of its specifications. Flour additives are added to improve the natural and processed characteristics of flour so that the results are reflected on baked products in terms of improving the flavor, taste, appearance, color, size and also extending their shelf life.
On the other hand, flour improvers have become one of the most reliable products in the milling industry and in the production of pasta, noodles, biscuits, cakes, bread, pizza and other products that use wheat flour, whether they are produced in factories, bakeries or even at home. Flour improvers can be defined as fine mixture of materials, enzymes, emulsions, and vitamins in addition to other substances that help to stabilize the dough and strengthen the gluten network.
Flour improvers are used to perform several functions for flour and for other products made from flour, these functions are:
• Improving the flour specifications to achieve better results in the produced products
• Improving the functions of flour ingredients such as protein, starch, fats, mineral elements, vitamins and enzymes to suit the quality of the end product, whether it is baked product, biscuit, pasta, etc.
• Extending the shelf life of end products, such as bread, to be up to two weeks
• Improving the quality of products, for instance making the bread crumb softer, preventing flaking of the loaf face, giving the golden color for baked products and giving symmetry for the product shape.
• Overcoming problems caused by poor wheat quality, weakness of flour, low protein levels and low gluten quality which as a result makes the wheat more suitable for bread production by strengthening the gluten network
• Giving pasta the distinctive yellow color and preventing any breakage or cracking after its production and preventing the formation of starch and maintaining its shape while cooking
• Increasing the volume of products like bread and cake and give the cake a spongy texture
• Increasing water absorption in the dough which increases the number of loaves and results in better financial return for bakers
• Speeding up the fermentation process and increasing the volume of the dough
Flour improvers belong to natural food additives that are known to be safe to use. They are known as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe For Addition To Food).
TYPES OF FLOUR IMPROVERS
Flour improvers can be used by millers, bakers, in cakes and biscuits factories or at homes. And there are many types of improvers for wheat flour, such as:
They are considered the most commonly used molecules in flour improvers. The most important enzymes used in the milling filed are:
1. Amylases: They are enzymes that break down and destroy starch in flour by destroying large molecules of starch and transforming them into smaller units. Alpha-Amylase, Beta-Amylase and the Amyloglucosidase (Gluco-Amylase) are very important enzymes in the amylase family:
i. Alpha-Amylase: It is an enzyme that destroys starch in flour and dough, which facilitates the production of gas through fermentation and reduces the viscosity of dough, which leads to more dough volume during the fermentation process and helps giving the golden color for baked products
ii. Beta-Amylase: This enzyme breaks down the Maltose (a sugar made-up from two parts of Glucose) this way the enzyme provides sugar that can be used by yeast for fermentation and gives the golden color for the baked products.
iii. Amyloglucosidase: Known also as the Gluco-Amylase. This enzyme produces Glucose directly from starch and Maltase and since Glucose is the nutrition for yeast then this enzyme increases the power of fermentation.
iv. Protease: It transforms large proteins into smaller chains of amino acids. Using this enzyme in biscuits, for example, gives the gluten more softness and steadiness in the final shape and using it in wafer leads to breaking down the gluten and reducing breakage in wafer.
2. Hemcellulase: Cellulase is one of the most abundant organic compounds on earth as it is found in the cell wall of fresh plants. The Hemcellulase enzyme breaks down the cellulose part into sugar molecules that can be used in artificial fermentation.
3. Oxidase: It is the enzyme that uses Oxygen to increase energy.
Lipase: It is used to break down fats. This enzyme softens the pasta surface and helps it maintain its shape when cooked.
B- ORGANIC or AMINO ACIDS:
Citric Acid, Lactic Acid and Ascorbic Acid are the most important amino acids used in the milling and baking industry. Ascorbic Acid is, however, the most commonly used flour improver, it is scientifically known as vitamin C, it helps the dough to store the gas produced by yeast, to maintain the steadiness of the dough and to increase the volume of bread.
There are two types of emulsifiers in baking:
a. Dough-firming emulsions: Such as dimethyl tartaric acid, steroid and calcium or sodium lactylate, they make the dough stronger and the bread better and larger.
b. Dough-softening emulsions: Such as glycerides of fatty acids, they help to obtain longer shelf life for bread.
D- VITAMINS and MINERALS:
Vitamins are widely used in the milling and baking industry to enhance the nutritional value of products and also to work as antioxidants such as vitamin E. The vitamins that are used as flour improvers are: Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folic Acid.
Flour Improvers are also used to produce a variety of basic flour mixtures for different industries in order to improve the quality of the end product. Flour mixes are made using one or more of the improvers mentioned above to satisfy the various needs of flour consumers to produce different food products.
Mixtures are produced as follows:
1. Bread flour mix
2. Pasta flour mix
3. Cake flour mix
4. Biscuit flour mix
5. Croissant mix
6. Pizza mix
7. Multi-cereal flour mix
8. Multi-seed flour mix
The Egyptian market is at the forefront of the Middle Eastern markets in terms of the consumption of flour improvers by mills, this started at 1998 when private sector mills started the production of fortified flour with 72% extraction rate to cover the growing demand for flour of various kinds in the Egyptian market. Flour improvers are imported from Western Europe, Turkey, China and the United States. Flour improvers consumption in Egypt is estimated at about 7,000 ton/ year with a growth rate of 5% yearly. Enzymes are the most used types of flour improvers in Egypt and reach almost 45% of the total amount of improvers used. The companies that flour improvers are imported from are: the Danish company Novozymes, the Swiss company DSM, the German Companies Mühlenchemie, Ter Hell &CO and Edge-Foods, the Turkish company Vatan Gida and Orkila Group.
The main consumers of flour improvers in Egypt and the Middle East are:
Mills: Flour mills are considered one of the largest consumers of all kinds of flour improvers. Using flour improvers has provided the possibility to use multiple types of wheat of various qualities at mills in recent years because, as mentioned before, flour improvers help to overcome problems caused by poor wheat quality, which resulted in an increased consumption in the Middle East for low-protein Russian and Ukrainian wheat instead of the American or Australian wheat
Pasta and noodles factories: There are two types of pasta factories in the Middle East, the first type that uses durum semolina and the other type that uses flour in pasta production, which explains their need for improvers to make the flour more suitable for producing pasta
Biscuit, cake and croissant factories: These factories use flour improvers by adding them to flour to improve their end products.
Bread and pastry factories and large bakeries: Some bread factories and large bakeries prefer to separately buy the flour and improvers to be combined later in their factories or in the bakery. Using flour improvers at bakeries is very important to control the quality of products
Other companies and factories: There are some factories that add flour improvers and vitamins to their products like corn flakes factories and some sweets factories and that is to enhance the nutritional value of their products
The market of flour improvers in the Middle East is a promising market that is constantly growing with an estimated growth rate of 5% annually. This is the result of the growing number of flour mills and their increased production capacity and competitiveness in Egypt and the region in addition to the large and continuous increase in the population, the increased number of pasta, biscuit and pastry factories and of course due to the quality fluctuation of wheat used by mills. All these factors have led to an increased consumption of flour improvers in the region.