Australia - Program 3: Modulating grain oil content of oats to improve suitability for milling and food/beverage ingredient developm

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Provided by Open Opps
Opportunity closing date
14 June 2023
Opportunity publication date
20 April 2023
Value of contract
to be confirmed
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Oats offer unique nutritional benefits over other grains driving increased human consumption.  This means significant growth forecasts for both domestic and international demands for Australia’s high-quality oats.  Internationally, Asia represents the fastest growing oat market globally.  To maintain Australia’s competitive advantage as a preferred supplier into Asia, capitalise on growth opportunities across this region, and to increase use of oats domestically, it is important that Australian oats consistently meet and differentiate themselves towards quality and functionality requirements of oat processors and food and beverage manufacturers both domestically and in Asia.
The most sought-after food-related improvements in oat quality characteristics include: 1) higher beta-glucan, 2) lower groat oil content, and 3) improved flavour, texture, and aroma.  Improvements in these traits not only benefit traditional oat products but are also important in innovative new value-adding food items that look to advance oats from simply a breakfast cereal into alternatives to staple foods such as oat rice, oat noodles, and oat semolina.  The composition of the oats influences the sensory aspects of many of these high-end food products (e.g. noodles) with favoured properties being lower lipids, higher ?-glucan, and higher protein; reinforcing these traits as high priority targets.  In addition to the food items, there is the US$2.2B global oat beverage (oat milk) market which represents another large growth opportunity for Australian oats.  Traits favoured in this application include, but are not limited to, higher ?-glucan for superior viscosity, lower lipid content to reduce rancidity and off-flavour, and improved protein solubility characteristics to allow more crushed oat product (and nutrients) to be included in the homogenised mixture.
The GRDC is looking to invest in three R&D programs that will provide the foundational understanding to develop oat varieties that meet the flavour/aroma/texture, beta glucan, and oil content requirements of domestic and international food/beverage processors to support growth in the diversified oat ingredient market †.  
Program 1: Accelerating the development of an accurate and cost effective high-throughput measurement method for key oat quality characteristics.
Program 2: Discovery of desirable aroma, flavour, and texture compounds for oat food/beverage applications.
Program 3: Modulating grain oil content of oats to improve suitability for milling and food/beverage ingredient development.
† It is anticipated that the three programs will engage through an annual meeting to share findings and discuss resources and other opportunities to accelerate progress in delivering benefits to industry.
The knowledge generated through these three programs will help Australian oat breeders develop grain characteristics suitable for high-end oat food and beverage applications.
In this tender, GRDC is looking to procure: 
Program 3: Modulating grain oil content of oats to improve suitability for milling and food/beverage ingredient development.
Australian oats have high oil content, which leads to difficulties in flour milling, especially in dry processing (e.g. air classifier mills), which are likely to become more popular as they are less resource hungry.  Dry fractionation technology (i.e. separation of flours into protein and starch rich fractions) could also be applied to oat processing should a low oil milling suitable variety become available.  Therefore, development of low oil oat varieties would not only lead to products with better human nutritional benefits and improved shelf-life, but the broader milling options would also increase the range of end uses for Australian oats, expanding market opportunities and increase demand for Australian oat producers.
Groat oil content is a highly heritable trait with low environmental plasticity and therefore a tractable target for breeding. International research has identified potential genes contributing to diversity in oil content in oats and genetic regions associated with oat oil content have been mapped. Breeding for reduced oil also has the potential to deliver oat varieties with higher levels of both protein and ?-glucan, due to the diversion of carbon away from oil synthesis.
Through engagement with industry and development of appropriate resources, the 5-year investment in Program 3 would first establish suitable groat oil thresholds for milling/fractionation applications.  With these oil threshold targets established, Program 3 will then look to generate genetic tools and knowledge that will aid Australian oat breeding companies to develop varieties with oil content amendable to flour milling and fractionation processing.  In additional to improved milling suitability and ingredient diversification, lower oil content may impact sensory experiences of alternative oat food products.  Applicants should outline opportunities for the knowledge and resources developed in Program 3 to be further leveraged by industry, for example to determine desired oil thresholds for specific innovative food/beverage items and towards informing oat classifications.
• Collaboration between research organisations and industry, including Australian oat breeders, industry bodies, oat millers, food processors, and fractionation facilities is strongly encouraged, to leverage knowledge, expertise, and capacity to successfully deliver on project outputs and outcome.  Applicants should demonstrate how initial engagement(s) with industry has helped frame their proposal with clear relevance to industry needs. All collaborations should designate a lead organisation as per the Tender Terms and Conditions.
• Co-investment from research partners and collaborators is highly valued. Please see the budget template for definitions of cash and in-kind contribution.
• Analytical support is available as an in-kind GRDC contribution through the GRDC strategic partnership Analytics for the Australian Grains Industry (AAGI)*.  Support could include advice on experimental and sampling designs, analyses of complex phenotypic traits, multi-omic analyses etc., essentially a range of innovative and fit-for-purpose analytics options.  To access AAGI support, applicants must consult AAGI and describe the agreed scope of support in their tender. Please make enquiries to the University of Adelaide Biometry Hub (attention Dr. Julian Taylor) at
* Please note, applicants that decline AAGI support must describe a plan for analytics in their tender. Applicants must demonstrate they have the analytics capabilities required to deliver the Outputs. Please note that due to the offer of AAGI support, GRDC has excluded analytics work from its funding in this procurement and, therefore, the analytics component of these tenders must be funded as an applicant co-investment.
To help expedite connections between research organisations and industry, GRDC has collected details of companies operating in the oat food/beverage industry that are willing to be engaged by potential applicants for discussion around collaboration opportunities. 
Please email attention to Sarah Marchioro to receive a copy of this contacts list.

Opportunity closing date
14 June 2023
Value of contract
to be confirmed

About the buyer

Grains Research and Development Corporation Australia

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