Australian scientists are claiming a world first with the creation of a biologically engineered 'no-milling-required' wheat that can be used in instant dishes after adding boiling water, Reuters reports.
The engineered wheat, which has been field tested and is on the commercial table before leading Australian food and bakeries group George Weston Foods, is a world first because it by-passes the need to mill wheat, leading scientist Bill Rathmell told Reuters.
The Australian producers of instant wheat have their sights firmly set on the US market, where they said that talks were underway with a "household name" food group.
The products have been developed by scientists with the Wheat Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), headed by managing director Rathmell, in conjunction with Sydney University and government departments of agriculture.
"Those markets could be huge," Rathmell told Reuters on Tuesday. "For some of these products the sky might be the limit."
CRC has produced its 'novel wheat' from advanced molecular genetics techniques to accelerate traditional breeding processes. The processes do not involve genetic modification (GM).
In association with Campbell Soup Co unit Arnotts Biscuits and with Australian miller Goodman Fielder the techniques had already produced a type of wheat specifically for biscuits.
"You can make food products of the cook-in-the-pot type, where you just add boiling water," Rathmell said. "If you do this with ordinary wheat you break your teeth because the wheat stays hard. That's why wheat is normally milled before it's eaten."
Novel "waxy wheat", however, turns edible in the pot after the addition of boiling water.
After the production of 100 tonnes of the novel wheat in field trials last season, enough would be available by the end of next year for commercial production, Rathmell continued. Commercial products could be on supermarket shelves by 2004.
Prime products would be new types of breakfast cereals. A type of Weetabix that does not go soggy in the bowl when milk is added is also a candidate. "Instead of Cup Noodles you could get a sort of porridge, but made from wheat," added Rathmell.
CRC is collaborating with eight core participants, including five commercial groups, Sydney University, and the New South Wales and Western Australian Departments of Agriculture.
"There are no North American or European wheat breeders anything like as far down the track as we are," a confident Rathmell added.