Pressure on plant bakers to meet the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) 2012 salt targets has prompted new research into the role different wheat varieties could play in producing lower-salt bakery products.

Campden BRI and wheat breeder RAGT, along with a UK plant baker, its milling arm and several other companies, are funding a four-year PhD student at Birmingham University to look into whether certain wheat varieties are better suited to manufacturing lower salt bread and bakery products on high-speed lines.

RAGT has already carried out predictive bread-making tests at its Cambridge lab using rheological equipment to test the elasticity of reduced-salt doughs made from flour from various wheat breeds. The doughs need to meet the FSA’s 2012 target of 1% salt in bread, and wheat varieties both on and outside the Recommended List have been tested.

“It’s early days at the moment, but we’ve found that some wheats actually perform better in doughs when salt levels are reduced,” said Julie Seekings, RAGT’s cereals analytical manager. “This would indicate that there are certain wheat varieties that are better suited to making lower-salt bakery products.”

The long-term solution may be to breed wheats that produce an improved balance of elasticity and extensibility in doughs, which could better handle salt reductions and the demands of high-speed processing, she said.

The PhD project is due to start in September.