Designing durum wheat for the pasta industry

28 November 20198 min reading

This paper will explain the actual durum situation, the designing of durum for the high end markets and why this trend will be more important in the coming agricultural campaigns, with a special focus and regard to the production of special durum wheats in Asia and the logistics involved.

Alex Bignoli Seward Project and Business Designer

When the world talks about Italy, two things come up the mind: Food, ( the love of food and the quality of food), and Design, Italian design throughout the world… Now what brings together these two special characteristics ? Amongst others, the most prominent certainly is pasta. Italian pasta and pasta produced around the world has become and will be even more a design product, a product that sells on design and especially in the high end markets of the world.

But how is pasta made, and what of? The answer brings us to the durum world. Pasta is made out of durum wheat, and only high quality durum wheat can be used for the production of high quality pasta.

High class designers as Giugiaro, Pininfarina and Bertone have designed pasta, cooking utensils and other related items to the food industry, and when high class design comes into the production of a food product this means that the consumer market segmenti s at the high end of the range….thus justifying the design of the raw material...

This paper will explain the actual durum situation, the designing of durum for the high end markets and why this trend will be more important in the coming agricultural campaigns, with a special focus and regard to the production of special durum wheats in Asia and the logistics involved.

1. Durum wheat situation (Sources: IGC, Romacereali, USDA, US wheat and others) • Global world production from 30 mln to 35 mln tonnes • Main Producers: EU, Canada and Turkey produce over 50% of global world output • Other Producers: US, Mexico, North Africa, Kazakhstan, Africa, Argentina, Australia • Consumption: Over 60% of world output is consumed in the Mediterranean area • Trade: From 9 to 12 milion tonnes yearly • Main Exporters: Canada, Mexico, EU, US, Kazakhstan • Main Producer, Consumer and Importer: Italy, EU • Stocks to Consumption Ratio: 20% actual, historical High 30 %, historical low 12%

The above figures show Us that the durum wheat is a small market, but a speciality market. This commodity has a particular use around the world as it is used mainly for pasta, but also for Bulgur, Cous Cous and bread, al special products for the consumer markets.

The type of pasta regulated by the EU laws and normative and the high quality requirements ask for a high quality raw material, as high quality durum will give high quality pasta.

Durum wheat can be “designed” for this purpose, and just as all design products will fetch a higher price in the market as it will give the answer required by the demand.

2. Italian design, Italian needs for special durum wheat: Each type of pasta has a special design, the pasta will not work otherwise, there are many designs of shapes, calculations of resistance and of hardness and flexibility, a calculation of sizes compared to the mouth size, the cooking time and an infinity of variable parametres that are put into the design of pasta.. So why look into the design of durum wheat? • Each type of pasta requires design, equilibrium of forces and special composition • To achieve this, special types of quality charachteristics are required from the semolina • To produce each type of semolina, particular specifications of durum are required • Strength, the “al dente” sensorial taste, the equlibrium between length and width and height • Balance, Equilibrium, Length/Width Ratio • Bending dry resistance, keeping shape resistance • Pasta is a full design product, both for specifications and for marketing purposes • Pasta sells under design...Durum wheat can be «designed» in specifications to meet the industry demand • And the designers come into the field of action

3. what the industry requires? How do the producer will “design” the durum wheat required? The input from the pasta makers and from the millers of durum wheat is not only fundamental for the design of the durum wheat needed, but it will also be fundamental and extremely useful as a marketing tool. The agricultural producer will be taylos making a product required by the industry, and thus will have the absolute certainty that this product will find a place in the good price range if the market.

The interaction and synergie between pasta makers, millers and agricultural prodcuers will be interlocked creating also a marketing scheme that will fulfill the players requests and demands. The miller will produce a good product for which he will be paid a good price, the miller will buy at high prices a product that will produce good semolina that will also fetch a high price in the market, and the pasta prodcuer will buy high quality semolina that will allow him to reach the top end markets, with the interaction between design and high industry practices.

What is the ideal type of durum wheat ? There are two main segments of parametres, the organolectic specifications and the intrinsic specifications: a) Organolectic specs: • High test weight, to achieve high milling yields • Low moisture, to avoid transporting water, low impurities • Homogeneous production, homogeneous varietal type • Low broken kernel percentage • High vitriosity percentage, higher semolina, lower flour yields

b) intrinsic quality specs for the production of semolina: • High proteine content • Elastic gluten quality • High yellow colour index • Low ash content

EXAMPLES OF THEORETICAL GRIST BLENDS: The following are just theoretical examples of grists that may be blended for the result required, and could mean that if a one type of wheat had the required specifications the blend could be much reduced to one quality and one variety.

A) Italian durum + Canadian + Greek/Spanish B) Italian durum + French High Proteine + Greek/Spanish C) Italian durum + Kazakhstan durum (if quality specs are met)

There could be of course, other blends, and each miller and each pasta maker have their own “secret blend” and secret know how in order to reach their final product, but in all cases, the higher the possibilities of reaching the requested specificatiosn will mean higher prices and better results for all the string of industry from farm to plate.

4. Some Design Thinking, Economical and Financial Approach • The consumption market is in the Mediterranean area • The high income and high end market levels are in the EU • Freights and logistics are easier, simpler and more manageable • Durum wheat can be designed for a permanent yearly demand • The size of cargoes may be smaller, reducing financial costs (purchase vs sales) • Cultivation contract give solutions to producers and consumers

WHAT DO THE FIGURES TELL US? • Italian pasta is over 50% of all consumed pasta in the EU and abt 20% of the world • Italian pasta exports are about 2 mln mtonnes yearly • Pasta consumption in the world is increasing strongly all around • Italy imports every year from 1 mln to 1.7 mln tonnes of durum wheat • To keep pace with pasta export growing demand, the durum demand will increase • Italian importers will welcome high quality, sound loyal and merchantable durum • EU regulations are strict, but achievable

5. So what is the design for the future? • Knowing the quality requirements, to establish cultivation contracts • Knowing what is required, to segregate the wheat produced by qualities • Knowing the destination, to establish logistics, freights and destination assistance • Knowing the final use, to integrate in the traceability requirements

WHAT ABOUT PRICES? • The EU market is the high end of the price range, no other market will pay more (ceteris paribus) • Logistics need to be compared to ocean freights from canada, but cargo sizes play a huge role • Prices in Italy will show a premium for high quality product, always • Costs cannot be known, but extensive agriculture has been always cheaper than intensive

6. Conclusions: • The market is there, and the trend is to grow further • The demand is concentrated in one area, the Mediterranean • The knowledge of the requirements will ease the way to strong commercial development • Just as there is a design of pasta, there is a need for the designing of durum • High quality equals to high prices and pasta today is reaching all market segments from low consumer to high top end of market ready to pay high prices for a top rated product

The idea behind this initial approach to design of pasta and durum was to render and explanatory procedure of what is needed and why it could be profitably produced and what the trend is.

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