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Bakery experts introduce wholegrain products during advisory missions

Food Security

White bread makes up the vast majority of bread sold in bakeries in developing countries. Wheat bran (cereal grains) is often seen as animal feed. However, eating whole grain products lowers the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and various heart diseases (source: Voedingscentrum). Therefore, during every advisory mission, the bakers from PUM's bakery sector try to introduce wholegrain flour.

Cees de Haan, PUM expert and bakery technologist / miller at Koopmans Meel: "In developing countries you often see food problems in terms of quantity. In terms of quality, food is often better than in the Western world. There, many refined products are eaten, for example fast food. In developing countries, refined food is on the rise. Buying white bread is a luxury. In addition, people are not used to the taste of wholegrain bread. However, it is much healthier because wheat bran is the 'nutrient treasury' of grain. "

Wheat bran

Coordinators of the bakery sector Bert Steehouder and Jurrien Lozie have therefore set themselves the goal of introducing wholegrain during every advisory mission carried out within their sector. Bert: "The idea is that at one point the flour mills that our experts visit will produce wholegrain flour and that the bakeries affiliated with those factories will sell wholegrain bread. We simply start by introducing wheat bran. Does a customer want to improve the recipe of his or her biscuits? Then we suggest wholegrain biscuits. Our experts have already introduced wholegrain products to entrepreneurs during 35 advisory missions."

'One gets a strange look when you say you want wheat bran to bake an original wholegrain bread'

One of the experts who, during his mission, made bakers enthusiastic for wholegrain products is Wiljan van der Linden. The expert visited Himali Bakery in Nepal: "The flour mills grind wheat into flour and sell the wheat bran as waste, often as cattle feed. One gets a strange look when you say you want it to bake an original wholegrain bread. "After the expert managed to get a bag of wheat bran, he started working with the bakers of Himali Bakery." We got a great recipe right away. The owners were extremely enthusiastic and everyone was surprised by the delicious, pure taste of the bread. Because the wholegrain bread seemed light in colour, I had the wheat bran tested in the Netherlands at a flourmill. The result was that the wheat bran was of good quality."


Great taste

Subodh Pradhanang co-owner and manager of Himali Bakery: “When Mr Wiljan was here, our employees’ spirits were raised, as he himself is a very fun, loving person. We had set objectives and strictly followed those every day. We had divided our goals into two parts - one was working to improve our already existing products and the other was to introduce new products into our production system. The new products that we tried were puff pastries, multigrain bread, whole wheat bread, chocolate croissants, cookies and tiger buns. Multigrain / whole grain bread opened doors for us to go into the niche market that we always wanted to enter. The bread that we made did not have only health benefits but it tasted great too. We sampled the product through our network and we received very positive feedback. These days people are very health conscious and looking for a healthy alternative. We have to get into the whole grain market soon or we will be left behind. We are in the last stages of launching the product. Currently, we are working on our packaging and pricing.”

'The bread that we made did not have only health benefits but it tasted great too'

Marketing plays a major role in the introduction of wholegrain products according to sector coordinator Bert. "In Ethiopia I was on an advisory mission together with a pasta technologist. We suggested to a company that they should produce pasta with more grain fibres in it. This got a positive response. Selling wholegrain pasta gives the company a distinctive character on the market. It is not only setting up a new product, but also introducing it on the market. To help companies with this, we have a marketing expert available."

Cees de Haan is bakery technologist and miller at Koopmans Meel. "The nice thing is that I work in between the miller and the baker. In the Netherlands, I sat on the committee that set up the new wholegrain guidelines.”
Bert Steehouder had his own bakery for 25 years, which is now run by his son and daughter. "I have been active as a volunteer for PUM for eight years, since last year as sector coordinator 'Bread & Pastry'. My goal: healthy food in developing countries! Less fat and sugars! More fibres!"
Wiljan van der Linden is a fourth generation baker. His father also went on advisory missions for PUM. "Currently I am working at Zeelandia Zierikzee as international account manager for release agents."

Text: Elise Mooijman
Photos: Wiljan van der Linden and Bert Steehouder