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BIRT

The Baking Industry Research Trust (BIRT) is a sub-committee of the New Zealand Association of Bakers (NZAB) committed to research aimed at delivering medium-to-long-term benefits to the New Zealand bread baking industry, and other flour users.

Set up under the Wheat Industry Research Levies Act in August 1989, the Baking Industry Research Trust (BIRT) was one of the three research trusts set up after the disestablishment of the Wheat Research Committee. Alongside BIRT for the bread bakers, the Flour Millers Research Trust (FMRT) for Millers and United Wheat Growers were established. A Liaison Committee was also established so all three research arms could exchange knowledge and identify joint projects.

Committed to research aimed at delivering medium-to-long-term benefits to the New Zealand bread baking industry, and other flour users, BIRT has been instrumental in conducting a wide range of research on behalf of their members. Much was originally with WRI/Crop & Food Research, and now more recently Plant and Food Research but other projects have also been done such as the work with the New Zealand Heart Foundation on reducing salt in bread and ESR on microbial control of baked goods.

John Gould was the first chair of the Trust and under his 12 year tenure much of the research was process orientated as was appropriate for an industry implementing new technology.

Since 2001, as a more mature industry with wider access to international research, there has been a progressive change towards more consumer-based research as bakers have grappled with the need to respond to changing consumer and policy needs.

Examples of BIRT projects since its formation in 1989

Wheat Breeding & Milling

  • Effect of sulphur fertiliser on Work Input
  • What & how proteins govern the breadmaking quality of wheat
  • Development of small scale tests for determining gluten quality
  • Residue reduction in NZ bread wheats
  • Millstreams’ composition and optimising flour blends
  • BIRT bake test

Dough & Bread Attributes

  • Mechanisms of ascorbic acid oxidation of doughs
  • Factors affecting crumb strength
  • Requirements for consistent quality in wholemeal baked products

Consumer Health

  • Milling and baking for health – optimising milling nutritional attributes
  • Loss of added folate during baking
  • Lifestyle Foods for Energy Balance
  • Future foods – consumer perceptions of Agri-food technologies
  • Foods for appetite control
  • Role and reduction of salt in bread
  • Effect of wholegrain content on glycaemic impact
  • Reduction of gluten allergenicity

Processing Optimisation

  • Impact of varying water quality in NZ on bread
  • Impact and limits of increasing dough temperatures
  • Use of microwaving for bread baking
  • Data mining – gathering process information to automate control
  • Energy loss & savings, particularly in ovens
  • Investigation of cause of ‘holes’ in bread

With the bulk of funding coming from across the industry, it has been important to explain all work clearly to industry members. BIRT holds a database of all research reports and runs regular technology transfer seminars to share the latest research and knowledge from both New Zealand and abroad. The BIRT website has also become an important place to disseminate information.

Research Grants

Apply for a Research Grant

Applications are open to all flour levy payers or organisations that support flour levy paying companies. Simply complete the form with the project work to be undertaken and submit the form online

Research Grants