Dr Larisa Cato

Wheat Quality Technical Markets Manager, Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre

Dr Cato has a PhD in Cereal Chemistry. Initially most interested in Asian noodle products, she has developed an interest in the baking industry and specifically in innovative baking processes and in manipulating processes to achieve improved product quality.  Dr Cato was visiting New Zealand to learn about the differences and similarities in the baking industries, to understand how research is structured in New Zealand, how industry collaborates on initiatives and how Australian wheat is being used in New Zealand.

Dr Cato gave a comprehensive presentation on the Australian wheat industry, with particular attention to the Australian Wheat Classification and the main wheat classes and main end uses. These end uses are driven by end users, market information, breeders, the classification of varieties based on end use functionality, growers, bulk handlers, and finally traders and exporters. The Australian classification system is one of the strictest and most quality focused classification systems in the world. In recent years, development of better (higher) yielding varieties meant faster adoption of new varieties and in some areas greater dominance of one or two varieties. Continuous improvement includes detailed reviews and reflection on market changes.

Dr Cato also gave an overview of the Australian baking industry sector. Factors influencing the industry include consumers making choices based on better health and wellbeing, innovation to meet customer health expectations, which can result in significant growth, healthier flour and products which can attract premium prices.  She concluded that the milling industry needs to be ready for future innovations in bakeries and manufacturing high quality healthier wheat flour options.

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