Wheat Commissions Host Japanese Millers to Build Confidence in U.S. Supplies
June 29, 2015
PORTLAND, Oregon — Japanese consumers demand the highest quality and safety in their food. To help maintain a preference for U.S. wheat to produce the best wheat foods, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is working with the Washington Grain Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission and Idaho Wheat Commission to arrange a visit to those states for four milling executives July 5 to 12, 2015. The trip will introduce the executives to the effective U.S. wheat export supply chain from breeding to inspection and port logistics. Funding for this team is provided by the contributions of wheat farmers to USW through their state commissions.
Millers on this team are executives from mid-sized milling companies representing Japan’s National Cooperative of Millers. This first trade team from this group of millers visited the United States in 2014.
“This will be the first opportunity for some of these managers to personally observe all sectors of the Pacific Northwest wheat trade,” said Steve Wirsching, USW vice president and director of the West Coast office. “That is important because they can influence Japan’s government grain buying decisions.”
“Our market share remains strong because U.S. farmers continue to grow top quality wheat, and because we keep all of our Japanese customers fully informed about quality, supply and prices,” said Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, USW Country Manager for Japan, who will lead this team. “However, we do compete with Canadian spring wheat and Australian white wheat. That is why we give milling executives the chance to discuss our logistical and quality assurance systems face-to-face with U.S. wheat farmers, breeders and exporters.”
Given the advanced state of crop development in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), the team will likely be able to see and experience soft white (SW) wheat harvest. Starting their trip in Lewiston, ID, the team will tour a country elevator and a terminal elevator on the Snake River, followed by a tour and dinner at Idaho wheat commissioner Joe Anderson’s farm in Genesee.
The team will continue their trip in eastern Washington for two days. They will start in Pullman to hear from Washington State University (WSU) wheat breeders about the potential for new varieties, developed with public funds, to improve quality as well as yield. A visit to the USDA Agricultural Research Service Wheat Quality Laboratory will offer assurance that the industry’s commitment to quality remains well established and supported by the U.S. federal government. As they travel south toward the Columbia River, the millers will observe wheat harvest and meet with commercial grain handlers, with a final stop to see how wheat seed production incorporates technology to minimize environmental impact and improve safety.
In their final leg of the trip, the team has much to see in Oregon. Their day in eastern Oregon starts at the Pendleton Flour Mill, and includes a visit to the Bob Johns farm in Athena and a tour of the Oregon State University Pendleton-Ruggs Wheat Research Station. The millers will complete their observations the next day with a broad overview of the Portland area export system. Following a meeting with USW’s West Coast Office staff, regional managers with the Federal Grain Inspection Service will detail their inspection system, which the team will see in action later in the day at Columbia Grain’s export elevator. The Wheat Marketing Center will also emphasize the quality of end-products that include flour from PNW wheat.
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.” The activities of USW are made possible by producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and through cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit www.uswheat.org or contact your state wheat commission.
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Mr. Ryoichi Yoshihara
President, Yoshihara Flour Milling
Mr. Tadasu Terada
President, Kanazawa Flour Milling Company
Mr. Masayuki Izawa
CEO, Izawa Flour Milling Company
Mr. Takemoto Kiyoshi
Executive Director, Central Flour Milling Company
Mr. Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya
Country Director, Japan, U.S. Wheat Associates
United States-Japan Partnership in Wheat
“The Japanese domestic milling and baking industries are highly advanced and fully automated, and demand consistent, good quality U.S. wheat. It is crucial to provide appropriate information on U.S. wheat to the Japanese wheat industry because they must address concerns from an increasingly sensitive consumer base on issues such as pesticides, allergens and biotech products. USW will continue with trade servicing for Japanese customers to help them gain a deeper understanding of the true value of the U.S. wheat system from farm to table.”
— U.S. Wheat Associates 2014/15 Unified Export Strategy
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 more than 3.5 million metric tons (MMT) on average the last five years. Japan issues consistent, large, bi-monthly tenders for U.S. western white, a sub-class of SW, hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat classes.
Sophisticated Japanese flour mills and their customers demand very high standards of cleanliness and uniformity in addition to the variety of wheat classes to make the wide range of flour products for hundreds of different wheat food products — and U.S. wheat producers consistently meet those standards.
USW’s efforts in Japan and through trade team visits to the United States 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 Tons1
(June - May)
Data current through June 18, 2015
1One metric ton = 36.74 bushels
2With high corn prices, Japan purchased an unusual amount of soft red winter (SRW) for feed in 2012/13 and early in 2013/14.