Replacing wheat with African climate-smart crops in bakery products

Habtu Abraha | Upstream Research Manager Africa, Puratos

It is a well-known fact that Africa heavily relies on imports to meet its wheat demands, which is an unsustainable practice. However, the African continent is blessed with numerous climate-smart crops, such as millet, sorghum, teff, green banana, cowpea, Bambara groundnuts, and faba bean, which have the potential to be utilized in the bakery industry. As part of the InnoFood Africa project, at Puratos, we replaced 20-40% of white wheat flour in bread with whole flour obtained from these crops. The resulting breads (see Figure 1) were found to have higher fiber and protein content compared to traditional bread, making them a healthier option.

The use of locally sourced, climate-smart crops in the bakery industry presents a promising avenue towards a more sustainable and self-sufficient future for Africa. The InnoFood Africa project demonstrates the feasibility of this approach and highlights the potential benefits for both the African population and the environment.

Introducing flour from such crops in leaved breads is a relatively new trend and may face consumer acceptance challenges. Considering this, it is imperative for various stakeholders, including governments, non-governmental organizations, scientific communities, private sectors, and other entities with public influence, to collaborate and create awareness while educating consumers on the benefits of such new breads. This will not only help provide a healthier food option for the African population but also reduce the continent’s reliance on imported wheat.

Fig. 1 Slices of bread made by substituting bambara ground nut (Br), finger millet (Fm), and sorghum (Sg) for 20-40% of the white wheat flour. The reference bread is made with 100% white wheat flour. Numbers without % represent bread volumes in milliliters.

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