Australian oats already have a good reputation and consumer presence in China, with advertisements such as this one spruiking Australia as the source of oat products.
Does the emergence of new oat products in the China market – such as oat noodles, oat rice and even oat milk – have the potential to increase the value of Australian oats?
This question is being investigated in an Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) research project.
The AEGIC is collaborating with China’s Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an in the research project to identify oat varieties suitable for oat products for the Chinese market.
The project is a co-investment between Australia’s Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and AEGIC.
One of the project’s objectives is to benchmark Australian and Chinese oat varieties by documenting their relative composition, functionality and suitability for Chinese oats-based foods, such as flaked oats, oat noodles, oat rice and oat milk.
A key aspect is sensory evaluation – i.e. taste, mouthfeel, appearance and other sensory characteristics.
In August, AEGIC hosted Dr Xiaoping Li, a specialist in sensory oat product evaluation from Shaanxi Normal University.
Through multiple sensory training sessions, Dr Li trained AEGIC staff in how to evaluate oat products to better understand the acceptable and preferred sensory quality of oats-based food products among Chinese consumers.
AEGIC barley & oat program manager Mark Tucek said Australia was a major supplier of export oats to China.
“Australian oats already have a good reputation and consumer presence in China, with advertisements spruiking Australia as the source of oat products.
“This project could potentially increase the value of Australian oats by supporting their use in new and innovative uses for this wholesome grain.”
Shaanxi Normal University’s oat research team leader Professor Xinzhong Hu said Chinese consumers were becoming more and more health-conscious.
“Driven by an expanding middle class, Chinese consumers are looking for new, more nutritious products to complement staple foods such as rice and wheat noodles,” Prof. Hu said.
“Products such as oat noodles, oat rice and oat milk, which already exist in China on a small scale, could be an opportunity for Australian oats as these consumer health demands continue to grow.”