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TAS Country : October 28th 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010 Tasmanian Country 7 News WITH THE GRAIN: Darren Lee says home bakers have switched to mixed-grain bread in a big way. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN Your daily bread starts here KAROLIN MacGREGOR PRODUCING top-quality flour for baking and cooking is an art and one that has been going on for more than 100 years at the Tasmanian Flour Mills. Located in a historic building in the heart of Launceston, the Tasmanian Flour Mills is the state's only large commercial flour producer. The company is one of just a handful of independently owned mills in the country and has about 10 major shareholders from June Industries. The company also owns the Tasmanian baking business Cripps. Managing director Darren Lee started with the mill as a ''store boy'' about 20 years ago and has worked his way up through the company. Mr Lee is also a qualified miller, a skill he said was dying out. ''There aren't a lot of hands-on millers left because in the large mills it's all computerised,'' he said. ''To get the right flour you really have to go by the look and feel of it.'' The company buys in about 22,000 tonnes of wheat a year from the mainland. Mr Lee said while they had trialled growing milling wheat in Tasmania in the past, the state's cooler climate made it difficult to get the required grain quality. However, he said there were more variety trials in the pipeline. ''We have to produce the same type of product as our competitors, so that means we have to source grain from the mainland as well,'' Mr Lee said. He said the hot dry conditions on the mainland produce harder grain kernels, ideal for the ''strong'' flour needed to make bread. Mr Lee said getting the right type of flour for different products often involved blending grain of different varieties and quality to get the correct protein levels. ''Consistency is one of the most important things because bakers want to be able to come in at three or four in the morning and do their mixes without having to think about it every time,'' he said. He said moist seasonal conditions in many mainland growing areas last year had produced softer grain, which meant the milling had to be adjusted for a consistent product. Mr Lee said over the past 10 years there had been a major shift in demand for mixed-grain flours. The company produces about eight varieties of pre-mixed bread flours and about six different mainstream flour varieties, which are generally used by the larger bakers. A small shop on site has grown in popularity with home bakers and people from European backgrounds, who sometimes find Australian bread too light and fluffy. Mr Lee said that in recent year there had been a strong shift towards mixed-grain breads in both the commercial baking market and home bakers. ''People seem to be much more aware about the bread they're eating now and what's in it,'' he said. Mr Lee said just a few years ago about 80 per cent of the pre-mixed flour they sold to home bakers was for white bread, now 70 per cent was mixed-grain. Once milled, the flour is packaged into bags from 1kg right though to 25-tonne bulk tankers for the large bread companies. Mr Lee said the market for bread flour in Tasmania had remained steady over the past few years. Bread consumption does vary through the year, but more is consumed during the school terms and in the warmer months. The milling plant, which is currently operating at about 75 per cent capacity, can process about 5.25 tonnes of wheat an hour. Mr Lee said flour yields from the wheat were generally about 80 per cent. Any waste products or foreign seed materials not used at the mill are hammer-milled and sent out to the Monds and Affleck plant at Carrick for use in stock feed. The buildings that house the mill were originally used as a warehouse until 1861, when Thomas Monds established a flour mill there. In 1918 he joined forces with T Affleck & Sons and the name Monds & Affleck was established. Mr Lee said there were a number of challenges involved in operating a modern flour mill inside a historic building that had originally been constructed for access for horses and wagons. The factory underwent a major upgrade in 1993. Mr Lee said a lack of grain storage on site was one issue they were trying to resolve. Almost all the flour produced at the mill is sold in Tasmania, apart from a small amount that is sold to customers in Melbourne through a central distributor. Mr Lee said tightening global supplies of wheat suitable for flour milling had pushed up wheat prices by about $100 a tonne in the past few months. He said this was likely to also cause bread prices to rise. Mr Lee said while Australia looked set for a good grain harvest, wet conditions in many of the country's main grain-growing districts could see less grain suitable for flour milling and more stockfeed grain this season. them. Resistance breaking new technology from the experts in lice control. It's outstanding efficacy, fast action and prolonged protection set a completely new standard. Break resistance. Bayer Australia Limited. 875 Pacific Highway Pymble NSW 2073 ACN 000 138 714. Avenge is a registered trademark of Bayer AG Leverkusen, Germany. Call 1800 678 368 for information. www.avenge.com.au 1800 AVENGE
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