Service To The World’s Wheat Buyers

Mar 07, 2014

The cornerstone of USW’s customer service approach is sharing trade, market and technical information with the wheat milling industry around the world. An extensive, annual activity reinforces that effort – developing and submitting a “Unified Export Strategy” to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Since mid-January, each of our offices around the world have shared the results of their work and looked ahead to activities they hope to conduct with our customers in the next marketing year.

Some recent reports from USW colleagues confirm that these activities are helping our customers improve their products and grow their businesses — and in some cases helping improve U.S. wheat quality.

Market information is a critical component in the decision to purchase U.S. wheat. Recently, USW’s country director in Korea, Chang Yoon Kang, had a fruitful round of meetings with importing managers from several flour mills.

“Sharing market information, including current growing conditions in the United States, definitely helps our customers prepare their purchase plans,” Kang said. “They gain the knowledge needed to adjust their purchase specifications to optimize quality at the best price.”

For example, in Italy, USW Marketing Specialist Rutger Koekoek (USW/Rotterdam) recently reviewed world and U.S. wheat supply and demand at a meeting with a durum trader and several potential buyers looking for alternatives to the limited supply of local, high quality durum. These customers were considering a combined purchase of U.S. Desert Durum® because of the knowledge gained about the U.S. wheat crop after visiting the production region last August with additional support from the California Wheat Commission and the Arizona Grain Research Promotion Council. Koekoek reports that the durum trader plans to import Desert Durum® and share samples with his customers to identify its quality and value in future purchases.

USW and its state wheat commission members often provide samples of U.S. wheat to our customers to demonstrate milling and baking quality in new markets or markets where wheat food consumption is increasing. In December, for example, USW and the Washington Grain Commission introduced U.S. soft white (SW) to millers and bakers in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. USW Assistant Regional Director Ian Flagg and Regional Technical Director Peter Lloyd, both from the USW Casablanca Office, conducted milling demonstrations of the SW sample in December at two extraction levels representing the most common flour types in that country. A large industrial baker who then tested this flour in local breads and sponge cakes immediately saw excellent potential in this product to help his business.

“We have been asking for this type of flour for the past 10 years,” the bakery owner told USW. “This flour is the best we have seen.”

The work of wheat breeders establishes the potential quality of any flour product well before farmers sow their first seed. USW, with the support of the wheat farmers it represents, consistently advocates the importance of meeting minimum quality targets in new wheat varieties. The knowledge USW gains from its ongoing dialogue with overseas customers is an essential part of that effort.

The USW Overseas Varietal Analysis (OVA) program works with select customers to conduct rheological and end-use quality analysis that provides specific feedback about the milling and baking quality characteristics of new U.S. wheat varieties. Later this month, cooperating customers from South Asia will conduct these tests over about a one-week period, but USW staff puts in months of intense preparations before these customers evaluate the first sample. Ultimately, cooperators gain accurate information to indicate whether existing U.S. wheat varieties are improving in quality and whether new varieties have the quality characteristics to meet the end use demands.

“The results from the OVA program are tangible,” said USW Vice President, West Coast Office Director Steve Wirsching. “In the United States, organizations like USW and state wheat commissions play a pivotal role in variety selection. It is important that our overseas customers know that some of the varieties are not recommended for farmers because data from the OVA program and other tests show they cannot produce the milling or baking quality those customers need.”

The staff of USW is proud that USDA and U.S. farm families continue to support export market development. We will continue working, just as hard and long as they do, to actively promote their wheat and serve their customers around the world.

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