For the fourth consecutive year Cigi technical staff spent a week providing Latin American customers of Canadian wheat and durum with training in analytical techniques and processes to evaluate wheat and flour quality. This year a technical specialist from the Cigi bakery joined milling and analytical services staff on visits to Chile and Peru in February.
When in Chile, Cigi presented a seminar on Canadian wheat for a group of nine mills and visited four mills and a major bakery, representing about 60% of the market share, according to Juan Carlos Arriola, Head of Cigi Milling Technology. The customers either use Canadian wheat exclusively or blend it with Chilean wheat or wheat from other countries such as Argentina or the U.S. In 2014-15 Chile imported 473,000 tonnes of Canadian wheat.
“They basically use Canadian when they require high-quality products and they also blend for lesser quality products using Canadian wheat as a base,” Juan Carlos says. “In Latin America they use three types of flour: strong, medium and low protein. It may range from country to country, but strong (high) protein flour is used for products like pan breads, medium for sweet breads and buns, and low or soft flour for crackers, biscuits and cupcakes. For the high-protein range they prefer Canadian wheat like CWRS. For a blend they try to use CPSR with another type of wheat.”
Juan Carlos, who is from Guatemala, worked with milling companies there and in Dominican Republic for a number of years. He says that personal contact is crucial to business relationships in Latin America and Cigi’s presence in Chile and Peru is important for the Canadian industry.
While Juan Carlos focused on millers to discuss and assist them with their use of Canadian wheat, Yulia Borsuk, Technical Specialist in Cigi Baking Technology; Kristina Pizzi, Head of Cigi Analytical Services; and Robyn Makowski, Technician in Analytical Services; met with baking and laboratory staff.
“When in Chile, we spent time at a bakery which gave me a good opportunity to learn firsthand about commercial baking processes,” says Kristina. “The experience helped to understand more about what their market requires and why.”
Cigi’s baking expertise was considered important for this mission as much of the Canadian flour milled is directly used for bread making, says Yulia. “It is critical for customers in Latin America to understand how to maximize Canadian flour, optimizing processing parameters which ultimately affect baked end quality. We also returned to Cigi with current knowledge on flour quality requirements, baking industry trends, and challenges the Latin American market faces.”
She says she received good feedback on Canadian flour quality while assisting with other issues related to consistency, adjustments to equipment, and proofing time. “I gave some recommendations and told them I could easily spend a week with them which would be helpful. Sometimes when you come from the outside you can provide a different view.”
Yulia says she found it interesting that Chile is fourth in bread consumption in the world and was pleased she had an opportunity to see traditional Chilean breads like halulla and marraqueta. She also found out about baking industry trends such as sodium reduction in bread and gluten-free bakery products in Chile.
Peru a top Canadian wheat customer
In Peru, Cigi staff met with the Peruvian Millers Association which represents about 90% of the country’s market and visited a number of major mills, says Juan Carlos. “Last December Peru imported 200,100 tonnes of Canadian wheat, more than any country in the world. It’s a huge market.”
As with Chile, Peruvian mills use 100% Canadian wheat and also blend with other wheat. CWAD is also used for pasta in addition to common wheat. The group spent an intensive three days finding out about quality requirements and assisting customers with any concerns, he says.
Kristina says her focus in Peru was on training staff in milling companies about analytical methods and learning about differences in how they test wheat and flour quality. As in previous years the training aimed to educate millers and laboratory staff on evaluating results properly to eliminate any misinterpretation of quality issues.
“We discussed the testing we do, how they’re testing, and any differences in their methods,” she says. Her presentation covered the alveograph, moisture, ash, kernel hardness, starch damage, protein quality, colour, falling number, farinograph, and mixolab.
“We talked about standardized methods and why that’s important. For example, when reporting results we always correct them to a certain moisture basis, but on this mission I learned that a few of the labs we visited weren’t doing that. And that makes a big difference in your results, especially when comparing over time or with other labs.”
Kristina adds that meeting with customers in Peru especially brought to her attention how much they love to use CPSR for their end products, although they cannot always obtain a consistent supply.
Testing procedures used by Cigi’s Baking Technology to evaluate flour quality were presented in the mills visited in Peru as well. “The information was valuable for the customers because it complements the analytical testing starting with wheat and finishing with the end-product,” Yulia says.
This was the first Cigi mission for Robyn Makowski who presented at the Chilean milling seminar on testing wheat flour quality with the alveograph, on analytical methods with Kristina in Peru, and assisted as technical support. “It was a good experience to get a new perspective, seeing their labs and commercial mills. We did a lot in a short time. People had a lot of questions. We were able to pinpoint any issues they were having and offer some advice.”
Juan Carlos says this investigative and analytical mission reinforces the message that Canadian wheat has the quality that Latin American customers need and that Canada is a partner in business. “If we give added value in a relationship where people see us as a partner in business, as a support, and provide them with training opportunities they require, they have reason to be loyal to the Canadian brand. That’s especially important in a country such as Peru which can import up to 4 million tonnes that they are also getting from countries like the U.S., Russia and Argentina.”
Cigi Showcased at Symposium in Mexico
Prior to the visit to Chile and Peru, Juan Carlos gave a presentation from a Cigi study on the impact of starch damage on flour characteristics at a two-day symposium and workshop hosted for millers by a large ingredient company that produces enzymes, compounds, and other enrichment ingredients sold around the world.
“It was important because about 95% of Mexican millers were there plus millers from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Dominican Republic,” he says, noting that Mexico can import up to 1.2 million MT of Canadian wheat annually and has the capacity to import 4 million tonnes, most of which is from the U.S.
Juan Carlos says the symposium was an opportunity to discuss Cigi’s work and the advantages of using Canadian wheat before about 200 millers.
“I spoke about how Canadian wheat offers an advantage over wheat from other suppliers because if we damage more of the starch we can create more water absorption. So the behaviour of flour from Canadian wheat under these conditions is very good. Actually, it was a very technical symposium. We discussed milling adjustments, what can be done to manage starch damage looking at results for CWRW and CWRS using the alveograph, extensograph and farinograph.”
The symposium provided Juan Carlos a chance to meet with members of the Mexican Millers Association which trains millers and who were made aware that Cigi can also offer training on Canadian wheat. “This was a chance for them to know what we can do for them. If they have an issue with their mills, avenues are open to them to communicate. It was a good opportunity to showcase Cigi and our work in support of Canadian producers and industry.”