Co-op uses its noodle to keep market
A group of farmers have joined forces to prevent WA losing its $500 million-a-year export markets for noodle wheat.
The Noodle Co-op formed quietly a year ago after growers heard key customers in Japan and Korea were frustrated at WA’s diminishing and inconsistent supply of wheat suitable for udon noodles.
WA produces almost all of Australia’s noodle wheat but a 2015 industry report confirmed that without intervention, customers could turn elsewhere.
The co-op is chaired by Shackleton grower and former Grains Industry Association of WA chairman Sean Powell.
Mr Powell said though the wheat type suitable for udon noodle production was sought after and attracted a premium price, there had been a decline in the number of hectares and tonnes grown.
Noodle wheat is more risky to grow than other wheat varieties because the yield is typically lower and standards high.
Under the co-op’s plans, WA noodle wheat would still be delivered and sold as it is now, but customers would also pay extra to the Noodle Co-op, which would then be distributed among growers according to their production contribution.
Mr Powell hopes the proposed system would be agreed with buyers by the time farmers started planting next year’s crops.