On 19 April, UK Flour Millers hosted the ‘Delivering Sustainable Wheat – Grain Processing Workshop’ at 21 Arlington Street. This event brought together wheat processing industry experts and academics and provided a holistic overview of the science and technology that underpin the quality of flour and flour-based products. It was also an opportunity to discuss the challenges that face our chain, spanning quality and functionality but also sustainability and nutritional issues.
Peter Shewry (Rothamsted Research) and Martin Whitworth (Campden BRI) initially provided background on the wheat kernel structure and how its physical properties relate to milling and baking characteristics.
Mark Charlton (Allied Mills / Allied Technical Centre) and Joe Brennan (UK Flour Millers) set out how wheat quality varies season to season and how the Group system separates wheat varieties by their functional quality.
Mervin Poole (Heygates) provided an overview of wheat testing at intake, touching on the role intake staff play in terms of testing not just quality but food safety too. Simon Penson (ADM) gave a succinct overview of the milling process and how mills manage variation in wheat quality to delivery a consistent product.
Lastly Sam Millar (Warburtons) set out modern industrial baking processes and how flour functionality, ingredients and technology deliver quality at scale.
Throughout the presentations, speakers emphasised the importance of research to tackle challenges facing the industry, and the final session of the workshop was an open discussion between speakers and the academic delegates as to what research would be needed and where industry could collaborate with researchers.
A range of topics were covered, from protein quality at lower nitrogen fertiliser rates, to iron fortification of wheat endosperm and reducing acrylamide in finished products. It was great to see the engagement and enthusiasm from researchers, especially junior researchers early on their careers with whom building close links will be vital for our sector. Already there has been follow-up on potential research projects between industry and researchers.
We hope the event showed to researchers the milling and baking industries are eager to collaborate on projects and that there is significant work to be done to tackle the future issues facing our sectors.
With thanks to Peter Shewry and the Delivering Sustainable Wheat programme for organising this workshop