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Korean Crop Survey Team to Examine U.S. Wheat Quality
July 10, 2014
ARLINGTON, Virginia — Wheat farmers and commissions in Montana, Washington and Oregon will demonstrate the value and reliability of the U.S. soft white (SW), hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat crops to five South Korean flour milling executives July 12 to 19, 2014 as part of a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) trade team. Collectively, these team members control about 50 percent of Korean wheat imports.

“Korean consumers want the best quality for their food as well as an increasing variety. As a result, flour specifications are becoming more complicated,” said Chang-Yoon Kang, USW country director based in Seoul, South Korea, who will travel with the millers. “It is very important that these millers see the current wheat crops they will buy and gain a better understanding of what the entire wheat chain, from the farm to the export elevator, does to ensure U.S. wheat quality.”

This team will several key components of the U.S. wheat supply system. Members will see firsthand HRS and HRW growing in northern Montana’s “Golden Triangle” and SW in eastern Washington’s Palouse region, then visit country elevators as well as shuttle train and barge loading facilities. In Portland, OR, they will experience the federal grain inspection process and other quality assurance services.

USW collaborated with the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, the Washington Grain Commission and the Oregon Wheat Commission to organize this year’s crop survey team.

U.S. wheat represents the largest share of the South Korean import market. Commercial sales over the past five years averaged 56.5 million bushels, almost 50 percent of which was SW. U.S. wheat faces stiff competition from Canada and Australia, particularly for Korean-style noodle flour.

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 FAS.

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2014 Korean Crop Survey Team - Team Members

Yang-Jin Park
General Manager, Business Dept., Daehan Flour Mills Co., Ltd.

Dong-Chan Bae
Senior Manager, Purchasing Dept., Samyang Milmax Corp.

Jae-Hong Yoon
Team Leader, Purchasing Team, DongA One Corp.

Chang-Hee Kim
Manager, Wheat Purchase Team, CJ CheilJedang

Chang-Yoon Kang
Country Director, Seoul, U.S. Wheat Associates


Korean Millers, Bakers See Value in U.S. Wheat

In the late 1960s, Western Wheat Associates – one U.S. Wheat Associates’ legacy organizations – sponsored the first trade team visit to the United States by South Korean flour millers. Since then, South Korea’s wheat flour and food industry has grown more and more sophisticated and U.S. wheat farmers and the U.S. grain chain have consistently delivered high quality.

“USW has cultivated an excellent working relationship with the Korean Flour Millers Association and the country’s baking industry,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “Through our work providing detailed information about every class of U.S. wheat every year and through direct support of the Korean Baking School, our customers recognize the value of our wheat, especially for bread and pastry products, even though we are not the least-cost supply.”

USW Country Director Chang-Yoon Kang said end-product flour specifications in Korea are becoming more complicated because consumers demand quality and an increasingly wide range of products. Millers are buying different specifications within a single class of wheat, instead of blending different classes, to maintain uniform product quality and reduce production costs. For example, millers can specify for U.S. origin dark northern spring wheat or northern spring, each at various protein levels, from U.S. exporters. USW — with funding from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service programs and support from state wheat commissions — gives the millers the information they need to best write their tenders.

The South Korean wheat food market is developing similar to that in the United States — consumers are relating food more and more to long-term health. USW is adapting marketing strategies to match these trends. For example, USW has actively participated in an increasing interest in whole wheat foods by arranging in-country whole wheat bread seminars as well as sponsoring whole wheat noodle courses at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, OR.

U.S. Wheat Sales to Korea
1,000 Metric Tons

Crop Year
(June - May)
HRW
SRW
HRS
White
Durum
Total
2014/15
69.9
1.2
136.9
165.3
0.0
373.2
2013/14
214.3
6.0
361.3
730.9
0.0
1,312.5
2012/13
279.4
4.9
385.6
715.9
0.0
1,385.8
2011/12
247.9
28.0
332.9
1480.9
0.0
2,089.7
2010/11
325.5
63.5
460.1
843.9
0.0
1,692.9
2009/10
260.4
12.4
316.9
619.5
0.0
1,209.3
2008/09
259.4
5.9
342.3
538.8
0.0
1,146.5
2007/08
404.3
7.4
421.5
774.8
0.0
1,608.0
2006/07
223.8
6.0
364.5
598.1
0.0
1,192.4
2005/06
238.7
6.0
380.4
565.4
0.0
1,190.5
Data current through June 12, 2014
One metric ton = 36.74 bushels

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