For the first time in three years, Cereals Canada’s team of experts was able to venture from their Winnipeg headquarters, which includes the only high-bay flour mill in the country, to bring their expertise on a training mission to Africa.
In September, a team of technical experts traveled to Nairobi to facilitate a training workshop with millers and milling personnel from six African countries. It was the first time since the onset of COVID that Cereals Canada was able to resume any of the in-country training programs it offers.
The team’s week-long workshop, led by Cereals Canada milling manager Norbert Cabral, with colleagues Karen Pitura, food product technical specialist (confectionery) and Kristina Pizza, analytical services manager, held at African Milling School. The vocational training center trains highly qualified millers for Africa and the Middle East.
Cabral, who led several sessions and open discussions focused on wheat milling and flour quality, said the workshop marked a return to in-country programming and hands-on technical training, which had been on hold since the start of the pandemic.
“It was an exciting week, both for our team and for the 14 millers and quality control managers who participated.”
Back home in Winnipeg, the trio of experts are part of a research team working on Canada’s only high-altitude mill and a similarly elevated pilot bakery and noodle production facility.
Cereals Canada has taken “vertical integration” in agriculture to a whole new level in pilot-sized production facilities that mimic milling, baking and noodle making with the goal of educating customers around the world about the quality of Canadian wheat.
The pilot mill was the first facility established at Cereals Canada in 1972 and has been upgraded many times over the years.
Today, manager Cabral and staff have three different sizes of mills to work with. This gives the research center the opportunity to handle small breeding samples as well as large quantities of wheat for research and the in-house bakery and noodle factory, as well as the pasta plant on the first floor.
The Cereals Canada milling plant is the only fully operational flour mill located on the 11th floor of a building. A pneumatic system is used to raise the grain from the ground floor to the mill, which has the capacity to grind 10 tons of grain in a 24-hour period.
It has the same type of milling equipment that you would find in large flour mills around the world, but on a much smaller scale. For example, a medium-sized commercial mill would produce 200 tons of flour per day, while for a large mill, the number would be 2,000 tons.
Cereals Canada’s mill focuses on the commercial application of Canadian wheat flour, providing an understanding of the milling qualities of different kinds of wheat, as well as specialty grains. The pilot mill produces flour just like what consumers would find in the grocery aisle of their local supermarket.
Rebecca Hadfield, content writer and digital communications coordinator, gave The Carillon a tour of the facility the last week of October. Hadfield claims that the bakery, using flour provided by the mill, makes the best white bread he has ever tasted. She admits that a few occasional samples are a bonus of her work with Cereals Canada. Visiting the bakery and the noodle factory, with that fabulous aroma of freshly baked bread, is a very pleasant tour. After all, a virtual tour can’t remind anyone of grandma’s kitchen.
For staff, the bakery provides an opportunity not only to produce hundreds of loaves of perfect sliced bread, but also to conduct valuable research at the same time.
Throughout the year, Cereals Canada tests the quality of Canadian wheat to determine how it will perform in mills and bakeries around the world. This requires state-of-the-art equipment and technology, such as the C-Cell Baking Quality Analyzer.
The highly specialized instrument collects images and data to provide information on the quality of baked goods such as breads, buns, pastries and cakes.
Cereals Canada experts use that data to provide customers with information that can help select flour for their final products. Canadian wheat provides excellent cell structure, when used alone or in wheat mixes for final baked products, due to its high quality.
And right around the corner on the same floor, the latest in Japanese-made noodle-making equipment gives staff the same opportunity to test and research Canadian noodle wheat.
Noodles and pasta are staple foods around the world. Working with Canadian wheat and durum wheat flour on pilot-scale equipment, Cereal Canada’s Asian end-product specialists create commercial-grade instant pasta and noodles.
Renowned for its quality, Canadian Western Amber Durum is in demand around the world. In the last five years, more than 23 million tons of Canadian durum wheat have been exported to 49 countries, including Morocco, Algeria, Italy, the United States and Japan.
According to Cereals Canada Technical Specialist Kasia McMillin, “CWAD provides the beautiful, brilliant bright yellow color that pasta makers and pasta lovers alike seek.”
On this day, McMillin and Natalie Middlestead, another Asian pasta and end-products technologist, were making savory white noodles, while sampling Canadian western red spring wheat from this year’s crop. The quality of the wheat is being tested to determine its ability to produce the creamy white noodles demanded by the Asian market, Middlestead explains.
Fresh alkaline noodles, which are more yellow, are what Japan wants. Cereals Canada, for the investigation, is primarily using Japanese equipment to make ramen noodles that are smaller in size than would be found in commercial settings.
The Ramen noodle making equipment spans the length of the 11th floor building. The challenge of determining a way to move grain 11 stories to the Cereal Canada mill was even more daunting when it came to installing the noodle making equipment. made in japan
The building’s windows had to be removed to bring in the equipment, Hadfield explains.
Ramen noodles are stretched, sliced, then steamed, then deep-fried to remove the water and make them stable to pack in the dry packets you buy at the grocery store, take home, and cook in three minutes.
Both the bakery and the noodle factory were built at the same time, with the Ramen team added a bit later.
Since its inception in 1972, Cereals Canada has been the number one promoter of Canadian cereals through technical support, market access, promotion and market development to increase demand for Canadian cereals around the world.
Over the past 50 years, more than 51,000 people from more than 55 countries have attended courses, webinars, training programs and national seminars hosted by Cereals Canada in Winnipeg and around the world.