Manufacturers to gain access to high-fibre barley

Posted by Isobel Drake on 18th June 2008

Food manufacturers will soon have access to a new CSIRO-bred barley variety, which reportedly has significant human health benefits.

A licence agreement between the CSIRO/Australian Capital Ventures Limited joint venture and Austgrains Pty Ltd is set to enable the production of large scale commercial crops of ‘BARLEYmax’, which has been created by CSIRO using “conventional plant breeding techniques”.

Dr Bruce Lee, Director of the CSIRO Food Futures Flagship, indicates that the new barley variety will enhance the health benefits of the crop. “It contains more than twice the amount of insoluble and soluble fibre found in wheat or oats, as well as resistant starch, which helps promote healthy digestive bacteria,” Dr Lee claimed.

Austgrains’ Managing Director, Warren Hannam, believes the unique nutritional characteristics of BARLEYmax are a valuable addition to the range of healthy food ingredients available in Australia. “Austgrains specialises in supplying grain and functional food ingredients to the food manufacturing industry, making BARLEYmax a perfect fit for our company,” he said.

Austgrains is a private company associated with publicly listed Washington H Soul Pattinson and Company Limited and its group of companies, producing and marketing specialty ingredients such as the Nu Soya range of soy products and omega-3 oils.

BARLEYmax Business Manager, CSIRO’s Geoff Ball, says clinical testing by CSIRO Human Nutrition has shown that products made with BARLEYmax – such as breakfast cereals, muffins and breads – have a low Glycaemic Index and strong bowel health attributes. “Further testing showed BARLEYmax has excellent processing properties and foods made with the new grain have a naturally sweet, slightly nutty taste,” Mr Ball proclaimed. “With large volumes to be produced soon by Austgrains, healthy foods made with BARLEYmax are likely to be on Australian breakfast tables in the near future.”