The interest in ‘composite flour,’ a blend of non-wheat and wheat flours, is on the rise in several regions, with a notable emphasis in Africa, as a cost-effective alternative amid uncertainties in wheat prices. MC Mühlenchemie introduces the Compozym product range to address market challenges and enable mills to incorporate non-wheat crops sustainably.
Since the prices and availabilities of wheat are scarcely calculable at present in some regions of the world, many mills are looking for alternatives as a way of cushioning the impact of the cost explosion. In the African continent especially, the idea of using “composite flour” is gaining momentum.
Composite flour is made by blending or mixing varying proportion of non-wheat flour with wheat flour and used for production of leavened or unleavened baked or snack products.
MC Mühlenchemie is pushing ahead consistently with composite flour as one of the major topics of the future. With the new Compozym product range, mills can respond actively to the increasing challenges and upheavals of the market by including non-wheat crops in the production of their flours. Compozym solutions offer millers a way of maintaining profitability in these unprecedented times in the wheat market.
WHY IT WORKS IN AFRICA
For the African milling industry, especially, this sustainable approach can open a way of achieving greater independence of the volatile conditions on the global markets, reducing the cost of raw materials and launching new, functional composite flours with a regional touch. In the past, substitutions of this kind usually meant compromising on quality, because wheat has the best baking properties of all cereals due to its special gluten fraction.
As soon as low-gluten or gluten-free alternatives are used, they change the dough structure, the baking process and the appearance of the products. On the other hand, knowing the culinary preferences of the region different sensory properties are not a disadvantage, since African consumers are partial to the taste and aroma of maize or cassava, for example.
NO ADDITION OF VITAL GLUTEN
MC has responded to the new technical challenges and developed a raw material concept that deliberately excludes the use of vital gluten to keep the cost of flour treatment as low as possible for the mills.
The strongest lever for optimizing the economic aspects of composite flour lies in fine adjustment of enzyme-based flour treatment. In close cooperation with our African team, we carried out numerous rheological analyses and trials in order to achieve the best possible balance in the different flours with application-specific enzyme formulations.
The tasks involved were highly complex, since each non-wheat flour has different product attributes. The high starch content of cassava shortened the shelf life of the bread. Certain millet varieties produced a very intensive taste, and in some cases maize flour resulted in a yellowish or granular crumb structure.
At the start of the project, the technologists repeatedly were confronted with adverse effects on volume, dough stability or the shelf life. But the farther they delved into the subject of composite flour, the more pre cisely they were able to compensate for the deficiencies of the mixtures. To cover the widest product range, the test series were carried out with baguette, Fino, Ekmek, Roti and Chapati as well as sandwich bread.
The trials resulted in complex, mixed enzyme systems that permit the inclusion of up to 20% of non-wheat flour without having to compromise on processing characteristics or the quality of the products. Compozym offers an excellent means of compensating for the poor viscoelastic properties of the wheat substitutes.
Beside the basic treatments, the toolbox includes “on-top” applications that specifically promote such attributes as a highly succulent crumb, delayed retrogradation or greater tolerance to long fermentation times. In such cases, Compozym may be combined with products from Alphamalt Fresh or EMCEbest WA ranges.
Whereas the addition of local non-wheat flours used to be regarded as a compromise, the new generation of composite flour products will be able to assert itself much more confidently.
TEST RUN WITH CONSUMERS IN NAIROBİ
To raise their level of self-sufficiency, several African states have introduced regulations aimed at reducing imports of wheat and promoting the use of domestic crops. The traditional crop plants include cassava, rice, maize (corn), millet/sorghum, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. From a technical point of view, all these products can be ground and used to replace up to 20% of the wheat flour.
Nevertheless, practical implementation of the regulations often is delayed. The crucial issue is consumer acceptance. For although composite flour products have the advantage of sustainability, regional availability and lower prices, the industry is not sure how far products baked from composite flours will meet with acceptance on the part of consumers.
This key factor is being investigated by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), using Kenya as a test region. In cooperation with local mills and bakeries, the experts are producing sandwich loaves and Chapati with 5%, 15% and 20% cassava.
After professional evaluation at a sensory laboratory, the most promising products will be selected and tasted by passers-by at street stalls in the Nairobi area. In this way, the research team hopes to show what usage level of non-wheat flours will be accepted in staple foods containing wheat.
MC Mühlenchemie has been running a Technology Center in Nairobi for two years in order to observe preferences and market trends, to carry out targeted tests on this basis and to develop innovative solutions together with millers and bakers.
About MC Mühlenchemie
Flour treatment specialist MC Mühlenchemie was founded in 1923 in Frankfurt. Since 1990 it has been part of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe. As a world leader in flour treatment, MC Mühlenchemie provides custom solutions for the standardization, improvement, and enrichment of flour, the staple food. The company processes over 150 million tonnes of wheat every year, and counts over 2000 mills in over 150 countries as its customers. At the “Futuremaker” SternTechnology Center in Ahrensburg, Germany and at twelve technology and production locations worldwide, dedicated teams of specialists offer individual solutions for optimum flour quality, to meet the current requirements of local mills. In its 100-year history, MC Mühlenchemie has developed pioneering solutions in enzyme technology. Among its most familiar products are Alphamalt, Powerzym, Pastazym, Tigerzym, Compozym, and Omizym. These innovations have made the company an industry pioneer.