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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
inbound investment 76 The next time you have a bowl of organic udon noodles almost anywhere on the planet, the chances are they were made from Australian wheat in a factory in Ballarat, Victoria, owned by Japan's biggest noodle brand, Hakubaku. For years, the family-owned company based in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, was making rice-based noodles. en they discovered a be er alternative: imported ultra- ne our produced by white wheat in Australia. A er the discovery of traces of bleaching agents in some wheat our imported from Asia in the mid-1990s, Hakubaku decided to launch premium noodles made from a strain called Rosella, which is only grown in Australian wheat elds. In 1996, Hakubaku invested AU$13 million to build a noodle-making factory in Ballarat. Today, it produces 2000 tonnes of organic noodles a year, two thirds of which are exported to the US, Europe, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. According to the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, the US is the world's largest per capita consumer of organic foods; total organic sales are expected to reach AU$50-$70 billion in the next 10 years. " e world's impression of Australia is it is very clean and green, a view that is very useful for our business,'' says Masaaki Nagasawa, director of Hakubaku Australia and grandson of the Hakubaku founderJutaro Nagasawa. "We are using Australian Standard White [ASW] for Japanese noodle production in Japan. Australian wheat is the best in the world.'' Organic noodles made in Australia have captured 100 percent of the organic noodle market in Japan, worth about AU$5 million a year. But perhaps more important than the numbers is the symbolism: what it says about Australian agribusiness as clean and green and a standard-bearer for quality and what it says about Australian adaptability as a producer. Hakubaku has trained local sta to make noodles the Japanese way, and Ballarat has managed to produce a number of noodle masters. ey found support from local government and community particularly helpful, which made the transition much easier. "As a further investment in Australia, we have already purchased 1300 hectares of farmland on Liverpool Plain, about 70 kilometres south-west of Tamworth, and established Hakubaku Agri last year," says Nagasawa. " is is part of our strategic investment to source our own Kokumotsu (grain) from our own farm.'' Nagasawa added that with future global shortages of good food ingredients, Australia's position as a "producer of quality food ingredients'' would become increasingly signi cant. Hakubaku is rmly commi ed to Australia as a source of premium, organic wheat. NOODLE MASTERS A JAPANESE ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCER LOOKS TO AUSTRALIA FOR ITS INGREDIENTS. ❝ Australian wheat is the best in the world. ❞ -- Jutaro Nagasawa Edible oils are fuelling an Indian-American agribusiness consortium in Australia. The consortium has built an agribusiness venture that will produce export-ready edible oils -- but also has the potential to produce biodiesel from what's left of agricultural products such as grapes, wheat and sugarcane. Riverina Oils & Bio Energy (ROBE) is one of India's largest investments in Australia, with the consortium putting in a AU$63 million oilseed crushing and processing plant in the Riverina region of New South Wales. The venture has been the brainchild of chemical engineer D.D. Saxena, an Indian-born Australian who spent most of his career as a corporate executive working for international consumer goods giant Unilever. "India with its 1.1 billion population is the largest importer of oil in the world. About 40 percent of India's consumption of oil is imported," he says. "We see India as a huge market and Australia as a long-term investment, using agribusiness as a base. Australia has always been attractive because of its raw materials. Eventually, we will use the agri-waste from grapes, wheat and sugarcane to produce biodiesel or ethanol as a form of green power.'' ROBE is backed by India's leading transport and energy company, the Bhoruka Group, led by Bangalor businessman S.N. Agarwal, who heads the Transport Corporation of India. Agarwal has a 25 percent stake in the venture. Ravi Uppal, who is in charge of the power division of the Indian engineering group Larsen & Toubro, will hold 12.5 percent and Saxena will have a 15 percent stake. But the biggest stakeholder will APPETITE FOR OIL Getty images