Saudi Arabian delegation look to import WA wheat

Posted by Josette Dunn on 24th March 2010

A high-level Saudi Arabian delegation is this week touring Western Australia to investigate significantly boosting wheat exports to the kingdom.The visit is in response to Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman’s invitation to the kingdom’s sole wheat importer, the Grain Silos and Flour Mills Organisation.Mr Redman, who visited Saudi Arabia last year as part of a trade mission, said there was considerable potential for WA to become a major wheat supplier to the kingdom.”Saudi Arabia is focusing on its water security and phasing out irrigated wheat production,” he said.”Instead, the kingdom will rely more on imported wheat to satisfy an estimated annual demand for 2.5 million tonnes. Their total demand for all grains will be six million tonnes.”I’m keen for our visitors to get a better understanding of WA grain quality and how it could achieve the characteristics preferred by Saudi Arabia for their baked goods, including the flat breads, which are popular in the region.”As a result of the Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Grains Research and Development Corporation are researching the kingdom’s bread making and other baking requirements.”Even though WA’s main wheat grade, Australian Premium White, is very well suited to making flat breads, it currently does not satisfy the kingdom’s requirement for high protein levels,” the Minister said.”This visit will provide an opportunity for the delegation’s technical experts to examine how WA wheat compares to Saudi wheat in baking and understand how our wheat might well be suitable for their products. Testing is being undertaken at the department’s Grain Products Laboratories.”The delegation will inspect the WA wheat supply chain, including grain handling operations; ports and processors; and a bakery.”WA is already a major supplier to other Middle East wheat markets and has a reputation as a reliable exporter of quality grain,” Mr Redman said.”This visit will help continue to build confidence in WA wheat and our potential to become one of the major wheat suppliers to Saudi Arabia.”