Researchers from Ontario's University of Guelph have been adding winter wheat to the list of ingredients used in the formulation of ice cream, and are arguing that a protein extracted from the hardy western Canadian grain gives the dessert a smoother texture and the ability to last longer in the freezer.

Douglas Goff, a professor of food science at the university and a man widely heralded as Canada's ice cream expert, explained that the secret to smooth ice cream and long shelf-life is the incorporation of small ice crystals that do not grow bigger but act as a kind of anti-freeze. He believes that winter wheat could have the same effect. Sown in the autumn, the crop takes advantage of the first thaw of spring. "Any plant that has the ability to handle a frost has some internal mechanism to be able to deal with the formation of ice, and winter wheat is a great example," he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Sunday.
"AFP from wheat is promising - and also palatable," he told the Canadian Press.

Goff was approached to conduct the research by the Ice Biotech company, which own the patent for the wheat extract known as AFP. Oscar Cheng, the company's VP of finance, revealed that discussions are being held with an anonymous "super premium" ice cream maker to use AFP in their products, and that he hopes a deal will be struck to put AFP products on supermarket shelves later this year.

Annual ice cream consumption in Canada is ten litres per capita, but next door in the US per capita consumption is 22 litres, the highest in the world. Europeans meanwhile eat seven to eight litres per capita a year.