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CPSR wheat popular for pasta and breads in Latin America

Maintaining an ongoing relationship with Latin American customers is important as competitor wheats such as those from the U.S. and Black Sea region are slowly making inroads

For Latin Americans, Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat is a top choice for the production of pasta and for flour blending in commercial bread baking.

José Fernando Chacón Valencia, production and project manager for Harinera del Valle, a major milling and food processing company in Colombia, says that in the past several years his company has exclusively purchased Canadian wheat. As one of the country’s leading pasta producers, it uses CPSR and CWAD, respectively, for lower- and higher-quality pasta as well as blends of CPSR and CWRS for bread flour.

“We use both common wheat and durum wheat for pasta,” Chacón Valencia said while on a technical exchange at the Canadian International Grains Institute in September. “The market for premium pasta in Colombia is very small, and we only use CWAD for that. For the rest we use 100 per cent CPSR.”

In Colombia, pasta is more often served on special occasions and may be sold in packages as small as 90 grams, particularly in less affluent areas, he says. “Even then it may be for two or three people. They are not concerned whether it is al dente (firm texture) or has a nice (yellow) colour (that durum wheat provides). They look more at the price so in this regard CPSR is a good wheat for pasta.”

Pasta products on shelves in Cali, Colombia. Pasta producers in the country use both durum and common wheat in their products.
photo: Cigi

Chacón Valencia says that a few years ago CPSR improved in quality and has consistently met his company’s needs. Although at times there have been supply issues, there are no recent concerns.

During his time at Cigi, he also looked at other Canadian wheat classes such as the new Canada Northern Hard Red. “I wanted to find out more about CNHR and it sounds very good.”

Last June, Cigi visited Colombia, Peru and Chile and met with companies that import an average total of about 70 per cent of the wheat in each country. One objective was to learn about their use of CWRS and CPSR for flour and semolina production, both in blends and with other wheats as well as in end-use applications. At the time, the Cigi technical staff met with Cachón Valencia at Harinera del Valle where they found out more about the company’s operations and requirements.

Esey Assefaw, head of Cigi’s Asian products and pasta technology, says that the countries they visited have sophisticated milling and food processing operations, and as relative newcomers to pasta have assimilated it with softer traditional food products like rice.

“Typically they use 100 per cent CPSR for low- to medium-quality pasta and they will also do some blending with (higher-protein) CWRS or other wheats for baking and other end products such as noodles,” he says.

Yvonne Supeene, Cigi’s head of baking technology, says she was impressed with the amount of CPSR used in Latin American countries. “The biggest thing I took away was how valuable CPSR is in the market for pasta, as well as bread. They love it. There is a huge demand and if we had more they would buy it. They aren’t after really high protein, so a low-protein CWRS, or CPSR can meet their requirements. We noticed in those markets how CPSR is as important to them as CWRS.”

The Cigi staff also determined that if CPSR is in short supply it can be replaced with U.S. HRW, which used to be more commonly used than CPSR. Maintaining an ongoing relationship with Latin American customers is important as competitor wheats such as those from the U.S. and Black Sea region are slowly making inroads.

In 2015-16 Canadian wheat purchases totalled 916,000 tonnes (MT) in Colombia, more than 1.1 million MT in Peru, and 284,000 MT in Chile. Durum imports were about 31,000 MT for Colombia, 111,000 MT for Peru and 10,500 MT in Chile.

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