What are you looking for?

How SGS’s Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory (GATL) Helps Optimize Milling and Baking Operations

Agri Trade HighlightsGrainsFebruary 16, 2022

Discover how our Guelph-based laboratory helps millers and bakers fine-tune their operations.

Female grading wheat


The process of grading wheat, which occurs for all export shipments, primarily involves inspecting its visual characteristics. While this plays a crucial role in ensuring visual quality expectations are met, it does not reveal the gluten’s strength – or the baking performance of the flour that will be extracted from the wheat during the milling process.

This is where our Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory (GATL), based in the 920 m2 SGS laboratory in Guelph, Ontario, plays a role.

GATL’s Capabilities

Our experts form composites by shipment, or even by individual holds of vessel shipments, using the incremental samples taken during the inspection process. These composites can then be forwarded to the GATL, where they can be tested to assess gluten strength and quality. This information can provide valuable insight on the baking potential of the flour to be produced by the wheat. The wheat composites are tempered and milled under controlled temperature and humidity conditions, using a Buhler MLU-202 Laboratory Mill. This process will reveal the flour extraction potential.

The GATL is able to provide quality data on the flour which would be in addition to the quality specifications agreed upon between the wheat buyer and their supplier, in order to enhance the scope of quality obtained from these wheat composites. The GATL can test these samples according to the client’s requirements to obtain the data they deem relevant for their business. Tests such as the alveograph, farinograph and extensograph enable the GATL to establish gluten strength parameters for each sample. Meanwhile, an array of other tests – such as wet gluten percentage, gluten index, starch damage and amylograph peak viscosity – are also commonly performed to enhance the flour’s profile. Industry-leading equipment from well-known manufacturers (including C.W. Brabender, Chopin Technologies and Perten Instruments) are always used.

SGS GATL, which was formed from a joint venture between SGS Canada and Grain Farmers of Ontario, is the only Canadian laboratory (and one of only a few in the world) to offer these services. The laboratory follows the AACC Approved Methods of Analysis, published by the Cereals and Grains Association. The importance of food safety in the milling industry is also supported through GATL by providing tests such as pesticide residue and vomitoxin as needed.

How These Tests Benefit Millers and Bakers

Both millers and bakers can use the results provided by GATL to maximize processing operations and maintain consistency in quality. Millers can understand what quality to expect from a particular shipment while it’s en route, due to the rapid turnaround time of results. Knowing the flour quality characteristics ahead of time allows them to better plan how to store and segregate their wheat shipments. There is a strong correlation between gluten properties and strength with end-use functionality. Therefore, this process helps to ensure that bakers receive a consistent quality of flour, which in turn maximizes efficiency during the baking process and achieves end-product quality standards.

Thanks to these insights, millers can adjust their wheat blends to accommodate any changes in gluten strength in their wheat supply, and any additional ingredients that they add to the flour during the milling process to help maintain consistent performance.

For more information, please contact our customer service team.

Paolo Santangelo
Operations Manager at SGS Canada
t: +1 226 203 2738

Fraser Gilbert
Senior Strategic Business Development at SGS Canada
t: +1 604 562 5066 

About SGS

We are SGS – the world's leading testing, inspection and certification company. We are recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 96,000 employees, we operate a network of over 2,600 offices and laboratories around the world.

Subscribe to receive news from our agricultural experts

Join our Agriculture & Food LinkedIn Community

News & Insights

  • SGS Headquarters

1 Place des Alpes,

P.O. Box 2152, 1211,

Geneva, Switzerland