A new research project is investigating whether the emergence of new oat products in the Chinese market have the potential to increase the value of Australian oats.
The Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre has been collaborating with Shaanxi Normal University in China’s east, identifying oat varieties suitable for oat products such as oat noodles, oat rice and even oat milk, which can be sold on the Chinese market.
Focusing on relative composition, functionality and suitability for oats-based foods, the joint Grains Research and Development Corporation and AEGIC investment is also documenting sensory evaluation such as taste, mouth-feel and appearance.
The centre hosted Dr Xiaoping Li — a specialist in sensory oat product evaluation from Shaanxi Normal University — in August, when she ran multiple sensory training sessions to train AEGIC staff how to evaluate and better understand the sensory qualities preferred by Chinese consumers.
AEGIC Barley and Oat Program manager Mark Tucek said Australia was a major supplier of export oats to China.
‘‘Australian oats already have a good reputation and consumer presence in China, with advertisements spruiking Australia as the source of oat products,’’ he said.
‘‘This project could potentially increase the value of Australian oats by supporting their use in new and innovative uses for this wholesome grain.’’
Shaanxi Normal University’s oat research team leader Professor Xinzhong Hu said Chinese consumers were becoming more and more health-conscious.
‘‘Driven by an expanding middle class, Chinese consumers are looking for new, more nutritious products to complement staple foods such as rice and wheat noodles,’’ Prof Hu said.
‘‘Products such as oat noodles, oat rice and oat milk, which already exist in China on a small scale, could be an opportunity for Australian oats as these consumer health demands continue to grow.’’