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Japanese Milling Managers to Learn About U.S. Wheat Supply System
September 08, 2014
ARLINGTON, Virginia — From Sept. 13 to 20, 2014, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will bring a team of four mid-level flour milling managers from Japan to visit the hard red spring (HRS), hard red winter (HRW) and soft white (SW) wheat supply system in Montana, Idaho and Oregon. USW collaborated with the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, the Idaho Wheat Commission and the Oregon Wheat Commission to organize this team.

“These customers are successful managers with influential flour milling companies,” said USW Japan Country Director Wataru Utsunomiya who will accompany the team. “Experience shows that as they advance in their positions, having a deeper understanding of wheat breeding, production, marketing and handling systems helps to create a preference for U.S. wheat. In turn, these milling managers will have an influence on imports by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.”

The milling managers will start their learning experience in Great Falls, MT, with visits to country elevators, large shuttle loading terminals and the Montana State Grain Laboratory that provides unbiased testing for wheat quality and grade. In Moscow, ID, the team will learn how wheat breeders balance the need for higher yields and quality to produce improved varieties and see how farmers apply that technology. Next up will be opportunities to learn about wheat supply logistics in Idaho and Oregon. The visit ends in Portland, OR, where the team will see the Pacific Northwest export system at work and learn how the Wheat Marketing Center is helping customers develop new wheat foods.

Japan typically imports more U.S. wheat each year than any other country. Japan’s importing pace is remarkably consistent year to year with SW, HRS and HRW making up more than 57 percent of Japan’s total annual wheat imports on average. However, U.S. wheat farmers must compete in Japan with Canadian and Australian wheat supplies. That is why USW and its state wheat commission members focus on giving buyers detailed quality information, keeping both Japanese government and millers informed on market and policy developments, advising government officials on their policy change proposals and collaborating in detail on any food safety related concerns.

USW is the industry’s market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

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2014 Japanese Mid-Level Managers Team - Team Members

Mr. Koji Deguchi
Manager, Tobu Technical Center, Nippon Flour Mills Co.

Mr. Hideo Kakinuma
Manager, Sales Section No. 1, Flour Milling Department, Showa Sangyo Co.

Mr. Keiji Akatsuka
Manager, Technical Service Department, Flour Milling Division, Mayeda Industrial Co.

Mr. Yoshiyuki Arai
Factory Manager, Flour Milling Section, Hoshino Bussan Co.

Mr. Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya
Country Director, USW/Tokyo

U.S.-Japan Partnership in Wheat

In 1949, the Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) organized a trade delegation to investigate opportunities for expanding U.S. wheat sales to Japan. That trip resulted in a variety of marketing and education activities, including a “Kitchens on Wheels” school lunch program that promoted wheat foods to Japanese consumers in rural areas.

Today, those efforts continue to pay off with a well-established market for U.S. wheat. Japan has purchased significantly more U.S. wheat than any other country, including nearly 129 million bushels per year on average the last five years. Japan issues consistent, large, bi-weekly tenders for U.S. hard red spring (HRS), Western White, a sub-class of soft white (SW) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat.

Japan’s milling and baking industries are highly advanced, sophisticated and automated. As a result, Japanese millers demand very high standards of cleanliness and uniformity — and U.S. wheat producers consistently meet those standards.

USW’s efforts in Japan focus on providing up-to-date market information and collaborating with Japanese industry groups. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (MAFF) carries out all wheat purchase in Japan and then sells the wheat to Japanese flour mills. The Japanese grain trade acts as intermediaries between MAFF and overseas sellers, and OMIC, Ltd., in Portland, OR, provides testing and inspection services.

The trust between USW and the Japanese industry allows for open dialogue between the two countries, to foster a mutually beneficial, long-term trading relationship.

U.S. Wheat Sales to Japan

1,000 Metric Tons

Crop Year
(June - May)
HRW
SRW
HRS
White
Durum
Total
2014/15
382.5
0.0
448.1
394.8
0.9
1,226.3
2013/14
1,005.2
51.2
1,167.1
854.4
1.4
3,079.3
2012/13
1,003.4
257.3
1,330.7
1057.1
0.7
3,649.3
2011/12
1,074.4
0.0
1,562.1
1207.6
0.7
3,844.7
2010/11
908.7
0.0
1,748.5
935.2
6.3
3,598.7
2009/10
963.2
1.5
1,518.3
879.8
0.4
3,363.1
2008/09
817.1
28.7
1,615.4
830.0
0.3
3,291.4
2007/08
1,079.3
18.7
1,568.2
798.9
0.0
3,465.1
2006/07
937.0
3.6
1,768.1
722.9
0.5
3,432.1
2005/06
853.6
0.0
1,552.5
654.7
0.0
3,060.9
Data current through August 28, 2014

One metric ton = 36.74 bushels

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