Co-op uses its noodle to keep mar­ket

Great Southern Herald - - News -

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.

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