Durum shortage drives German firm to find pasta alternatives

'Many pasta manufacturers will have to make do with weaker durum qualities or resort to mixtures of pasta and bread flour,' says German flour-treatment firm

Massive predicted durum wheat losses have driven German firm to research alternative formulation options for pasta manufacturers.

Flour-treatment firm Mühlenchemie said global durum wheat yields had been hit hard by sustained bad weather, with the North Dakota Wheat Commission predicting the smallest harvest of Triticum durum in 13 years. Meanwhile it said top producers Italy, Greece, Spain and Canada, the biggest exporter of durum globally, were expecting poor harvests.

The company said as a result the processing industry was likely to feel increasing pricing pressures in 2015. As a result it was investing in a pasta laboratory to help customers meet this challenge.

“Many pasta manufacturers will have to make do with weaker durum qualities or resort to mixtures of pasta and bread flour. But such compromises generally result in loss of quality. Bite, colour, cooking properties – all these factors depend to a large extent on the quality of the flour,” the company said.

Pilot plant

The Pavan pilot plant would allow customers to recreate industrial processes, testing the effects of different enzyme within recipes.

A spokesperson for the company said this approach enabled it to help pasta manufacturers “reconcile quality and economy even in difficult times”.

In the past it had achieved a 75% replacement of durum with bread wheat using its Pastazym enzyme product, a change it said did not impact quality or colour.

“Support of this kind will become more and more significant in future.”

A market split

While durum forecasts were worrying, it said excellent harvests were expected for bread wheat and soft wheat in 2014/15, splitting the market in two.  

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