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Revolutionizing flour improvement

10 February 20247 min reading

The milling industry, stands at a critical crossroads. The drive for novel and diverse products, intensified by the cut-throat nature of pricing strategies, is pushing the industry towards an innovative brink. The key to future success lies in embracing a radical transformation. Integrating advanced enzyme technology with the precision of applied chemometrics is not just an option; it’s becoming a necessity to lead in this competitive arena.


Dimitrios Argyriou
Food Scientist
Managing Director | Grainar

In this article, we will present a practical case study demonstrating how my team and I assisted a flour mill in outperforming its competitors. We achieved this through the adoption of a hybrid technology approach, expertly combining the strengths of enzyme technology with advanced industrial analytics

INNOVATIVE CASE STUDY 

Challenge and Collaboration with a Leading Flour Mill Company

A leading flour milling company, referred to as ‘Milling Co.’  (for confidentiality reasons), partnered with Grainar to develop an innovative flour improver solution, designed to secure a dominant market position. This collaboration was centered around two primary objectives:

Enhancing Premium Flour: Elevating their existing premium flour to set a new market benchmark.

Incorporating Low-Quality Wheat: Integrating the maximum possible amount of lower quality, low-protein wheat into the mix, without compromising the final flour’s performance, matching the standards of their existing premium product.


OUR METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH

Defining the Experimental Strategy:

Why Experiment? 

The fundamental equation of experimentation is 

x+z=y, where we manipulate variables x and z to achieve a desired outcome y.

Experimental Tactics: 

One Factor at a Time (OFAT) vs. Design of Experiments (DOE):

OFAT: A simpler approach studying one variable at a time, but it often misses interactions and leads to inefficiencies. Often referred as trial and error method.

DOE: A more sophisticated method that examines multiple factors simultaneously, accounting for interactions and maximizing information from minimal experimental runs.


Given these insights, we adopted the following approach:

1. Model Creation: We aimed to develop a single giant improver named Alfa Giant  suitable for both:

 Premium flour enhancement

 Blending premium with lower-grade wheat.

2. Experimental Design:

 Study Type: We employed a Mixture of Design (MOD) methodology, in order to reduce the experimental space, understand the key interactions and to build a predictive model.

 Design Type: Our approach was based on a Simplex Lattice model with a Quadratic design.

3. Dough BreadMaking Process: Straight Dough Method

4. Component Selection: The improver, Alfa Giant, was formulated exclusively with enzymes and Ascorbic Acid, considering factors like cost, transportation, and labeling.


Results from Mixture of Design (MOD) Methodology

The Alfa Giant improver was developed through 25 experimental runs focusing on 5 key components. The final formula achieved statistically significant results, demonstrating exceptional performance with 1767ml in Normal Proof and 1478ml in Shocked Proof tests*, significantly elevating the benchmark for flour improvers ( Figure 1 & 2)

*Shocked Proof Test: A test for assessing dough tolerance. This involves taking a pan containing fully proofed dough just before it enters the oven and letting it fall from a certain height. The purpose is to assess the dough proving stability. After the test, the dough is baked as usual


ASSESSMENT OF THE MODEL’S VALIDITY

To assess the model’s validity, we conducted five baking tests using flour of varying quality and sources

1. Competitor’s Flour vs. Milling Co. Current Improver vs. Milling Co. with Alfa Giant

Competitor’s Flour: Obtained from a top-tier flour mill with a slightly lower protein content of 13.2%, and has been treated with an unspecified improver.

Premium Flour: Sourced from ‘Milling Co.’, this flour has a protein content of 13.4% and treated with their current improver.

Premium Control Flour: Also from ‘Milling Co.’, this flour shares the same protein content 13.4% and was untreated and then enhanced with the Alfa Giant Improver.


The Alfa Giant improver yielded impressive results:

 The untreated Premium Flour from ‘Milling Co.’, when treated with Alfa Giant, showed an impressive 11% higher volume in normal fermentation and a 12% increase in the shocked test compared to its original untreated state.

 Notably, when compared to the competitor’s flour, the Alfa Giant-treated Premium Flour from ‘Milling Co.’ demonstrated superior performance, showcasing the effectiveness of the Alfa Giant Improver.

2.  Alfa Giant vs Competitor’s  High  Performance Improver on Average/Poor Flour

Control Flour: Sourced from a flour mill in Greece, this flour has a protein content of 11.4%. and has been treated with an unspecified improver.

High Performance Improver: A high-performance improver by a leading firm.

The Alfa Giant improver yielded impressive results:

 A 47% increase in volume during normal fermentation.

 A 106% increase in volume in shocked fermentation tests.

 Compared to High Performance Improver, Alfa Giant showed a 16% higher volume in normal fermentation and a 56% greater volume in shocked fermentation.

3. Effect of Alfa Giant on Randomly Selected Strong Flour

Control Flour: Sourced from a flour mill in Greece, this flour has a protein content of 11.4%. and has been treated with an unspecified improver

Control Enhanced with Alfa Giant: This is the same flour as the Control Treated sample, further enhanced with the Alfa Giant improver.

Alfa Giant’s Remarkable Impact:

 The addition of Alfa Giant to the treated flour led to notable performance enhancements:

 A 19% increase in volume during normal fermentation.

 A striking 88% increase in volume in shocked fermentation tests, nearly doubling the original volume.


4. Alfa Giant Improver: Substitutes a Combined 2% Gluten and 0.2% Datem

Control Flour Untreated : Sourced from a Spanish mill with a protein content of 12.8%

The addition of Alfa Giant to the treated flour led to notable performance enhancements:

 To combined replacement of 2% Gluten and 0.2% Datem.”

 To significant cost savings

5. Alfa Giant allows for 40% incorporation of inferior wheat.

Blend: Premium utreated flour with 13.4% protein  and Inferior untreated flour with 11.3% protein , both sourced from Milling Co., were  blended in proportions of 60% and 40% respectively.

Premium Flour: Sourced from ‘Milling Co.’, with protein content of 13.4% and treated with their current improver.


Alfa Giant provides an economic advantage

By enabling the use of a significantly higher percentage of cheaper wheat, without compromising the final flour’s performance.

Case Study Concluding Remarks

1. Our solution was developed using advanced AI software, which took into account thousands of interactions, leading to the development of an unparalleled algorithm.

2. This project benefited from the contributions of more than 20 experienced bakers and scientists, ensuring a blend of practical and scientific expertise.

3. We conducted numerous validation tests, as mentioned above, to confirm the model’s accuracy and the effectiveness of the ‘Alfa Giant’ improver.

4. The presented case study exemplifies the path that flour milling companies should consider for future developments.

5. Traditional experimental test approaches and ingredient assessments are likely to become seen as barriers to innovation and growth.

6. A hybrid methodology, as demonstrated in this study, combining the expertise of millers with innovative companies, will likely become the standard for success in the near future.


SUMMARY

Revolutionizing Milling: The synergy of biotechnology and advanced statistics, chemometrics and artificial neurons methodology for sustainable innovation.

 Integration of biotechnology and DOE Methodology: Marks the beginning of a new era in milling, characterized by innovation and efficiency.

 Enhanced Product Quality: Precise enzyme application enabled by this integration results in superior dough properties and breadmaking performance.

 Cost-Effective Optimization: Reduces reliance on trial-and-error, thanks to systematic experimentation facilitated by DOE.

 Customization and Adaptability: Allows millers to quickly respond to market trends and consumer demands with specialized flour mixes.

 Contribution to Sustainability: Optimizes resource use and minimizes waste, aligning milling practices with environmental goals.

 Predictive Quality Control: The predictive capabilities of DOE ensure consistent flour quality, even with variable raw materials.

 Environmental Responsibility: Positions millers as leaders in both quality control and sustainable practices.

 Transformative Impact: Represents not just an improvement but a significant leap towards future-ready, consumer-centric, and eco-friendly milling solutions.

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