Survey and professional updates
This year's Cereals day can easily be summarised: live survey, current trends, useful research and success stories from the business.
The around 80 participants at this year’s Cereals day were more than just an audience. They also took part in a consumer survey by tasting bread containing different amounts of barley and salt.
BarleyBread may be the largest and most innovative research project on barley in Europe. Representatives from the project used this opportunity to listen to the business’ own opinions on prototypes of bread containing various amounts of barley. The participants willingly pressed their mentometer buttons and answered which of the four samples they thought contained the most barley and the least salt. They then replied to how they liked the bread prototypes. The results from the experts at this day of professional interest were compared to consumer surveys in Norway and Estonia.
"The conclusion is that the audience here is in general more sceptical to the new bread types than the consumers," said adviser Britt Signe Granli and received an amused response. "We see that you experts agree with Norwegian consumers on which bread you prefer, the wholemeal bread with no reduced salt content. The results also show that the ladies in the audience are more interested in health and more positive towards a reduced salt content in bread than you gentlemen," continued Granli to an increasingly amused audience.
Wheat and climate
Grain researchers at Nofima presented their new research, which shows that quality variation in wheat to a great extent is due to climatic variation.
"Wheat is used a lot for food in Norway, but there is a great variation in quality in the wheat grown in Norway. This is the background for the project ‘Stable and correct Norwegian food wheat quality – fortified competitive strengths in a more open market’," said grain researcher Anette Moldestad. This project has compared wheat quality in the years 2005 to 2008. They found a much lower gluten quality in 2007 and 2008, and far better quality in 2005 and 2006.
"Such finds are dream material for us researchers," smiled Anette Moldestad, and explained how the researchers have compared grain types, sowing time, air humidity and ripening during these four years. "We found that the 2005 and 2006 seasons had a warmer climate earlier in the year, and that this led to better baking properties in the gluten proteins. We have seen that climatic conditions are important to wheat quality, and now wonder whether it is possible to state prognoses for annual wheat quality based on climatic parameters. We would also like to know whether it is possible to reap the cereal before it is fully ripe in order to predict quality when fully ripe," said Anette Moldestad. Nofima Mat, Bioforsk and The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) will continue their work in gaining a better understanding of climatic effects on baking properties of wheat in a new project: FutureWheat.
Trends and successes
Current trends were also on the programme for this year’s Cereals day. Hilde Skotland Mortvedt guided the participants through what trends researchers believe may be to come in the next few years. Some of the predicted trends include combining sales outlets and restaurants, "cataway" and healthier fast food. Other important presentations included opportunities with sourdough based on barley and oats as well as government regulations on branding products in relation to the health trend.
The companies Millba and Hjelle bakery also had much to say. "Cooperation between production, market and product development is an important factor to our success," said a proud Bernt Ove Søvik about the successes of Millba. "When we have introduced our products to new markets, we have searched for vacant positions in the market, which we found in places such as Sweden. We’re staying away from England, where there are no vacant market positions as all are taken. So there’s no point in spending any efforts there," said Søvik.
Vidar Hjelle from Hjelle bakery in Bergen was overworked to the point of endangering his health when he in the 1990s decided to rethink the business and get rid of too much stress and too long working days.
"We have become more conscious in planning our strategies and setting concrete goals for who we should be and what our focus should be on. This has led to the establishment of our own outlets, and we now have ten sales outlets which are our most important sales channel. We are now looking at how the Norwegian Wine and Spirits Monopoly, Vinmonopolet, have changed their outlets from over-the-counter to self-service. We believe that this is a good system, and are now rebuilding several of our outlets to self-service. There’s a big difference between serving a person who just wants a sandwich and someone who wants to order a wedding cake. And we will make room for them all," said an enthusiastic Vidar Hjelle. His company is taking part in the "Hunting for opportunities" network organised by Nofima Mat.