>> Chicago's famous Gonnella Baking Company faced a major problem this year. Their bread, buns, and bagels didn't quite have the usual texture that their customers expected. The reason, heavy rains in Kansas, America's biggest wheat producing state, resulted in a crop with low protein, something that dramatically changes any dough.
Reuters correspondent, Julie Ingwerson.>> Commercial bakeries such as Gonnella are often tinkering with their mixes. They need to make adjustments all the time for changes in ingredients and so forth. What they found this fall is that they were doing a lot more adjusting than usual, due to the low protein in the wheat crop that was translating into the low gluten strength in the flour.
They adjusted the time and the temperature, which products had to rise before baking, they would add vital wheat gluten. Gonnella told us that all the additional changes they had to make ended up creating extra waste of about 10 to 15,000 pounds of product per week, more than usual.
>> While supply swings due to weather are common, the wheat industry as a whole faces more enduring problems. US consumption of wheat products fell to its lowest level in 22 years in 2011, with more Americans cutting out bread entirely and moving to gluten free or low-carb diets. And with dwindling demand this winter US farmers are expected to plant the least wheat in over a century, a factor that can magnify the impact of any weather problem
>> Consumers are becoming picky about what goes into their bread. A solution for some, including the massive US food company ConAgra has been to buy more specific kinds of grains directly from farmers. This so called grown to order wheat can be more in line with consumers changing habits.