Korean Wheat Crop Survey Team Taking Annual U.S. Tour
August 08, 2016
ARLINGTON, Virginia — Three executives representing Korean flour milling companies will travel through the Pacific Northwest Aug. 7 to 14, for a more in-depth look at crop production and quality of soft white (SW), hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat. Their visit, which includes stops in Montana, Washington and Oregon, will give them the opportunity to meet with growers, breeders and exporters.
“These milling companies hold purchasing tenders for milling wheat that supply all eight mills in Korea,” said USW Country Director Chang Yoon Kang, who is leading the team. “Each of these managers have a key role in making decisions about wheat origin, class, purchase contract specifications and wheat procurement policies. It is vital that they receive timely and reliable information on the crop situation.”
With funding from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, USW collaborated with the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee (MWBC), Washington Grain Commission (WGC) and Oregon Wheat Commission (OWC) to organize and host this trade team.
In calendar year 2015, South Korea imported 2.37 MMT of wheat, including 1.10 MMT U.S. SW, HRS and HRW wheat sourced from Pacific Northwest and northern plains fields. While Korean millers import most of their wheat from the United States, Canadian spring wheat is also imported to blend with U.S. classes for bread flour. Australian white wheat is preferred for Korean style noodles, but USW is working to flank that market by helping its customers introduce whole wheat products made with flour from U.S. wheat as a healthy noodle choice.
The team will start its visit in Great Falls, MT, to visit a Columbia Grain elevator and the State Grain Lab. They will also tour O’Hara Farms in Fort Benton, MT, and have dinner with MWBC commissioners. In Pullman and Spokane, WA, the team will meet with Washington State University breeders and tour the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Wheat Quality lab, as well as go on a tour of the HighLine Grain shuttle facility. The final leg of the trip will be to Portland, OR, where the team will learn more about the PNW supply chain from staff at the USW West Coast Office, Wheat Marketing Center, Oregon Wheat Commission, Pacific Grain Exporters Association and Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS). The team will round out their trip with a farm tour in the Willamette Valley.
“The Korean consumer is sophisticated and demands a wide range of high-quality wheat products that compete effectively with more traditional rice products. Korea has grown into a very important market for U.S. wheat producers because they buy our premium wheat classes and are willing to pay more to extract that quality from our market,” said USW Vice President and West Coast Office Director Steve Wirsching. “This trade team provides a way for the millers to learn more about the upcoming harvest so they can do a better job of originating the best quality we have to offer.”
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 (FAS).
2016 Korean Crop Survey Trade Team - Members
Mr. Jong-Hyuk Sung
Manager, Purchasing Department, Samyang Corp.
Mr. Nak-Ki Sung
Manager, Wheat Purchase Team, CJ CheilJedang Corp.
Mr. Sang-Wong Yong
Purchasing Manager, Business Department, Daehan Flour Mills Company
Mr. Chang-Yoon Kang
Country Director, USW Seoul Office
Mr. Jin-Young Lee
Marketing/Program Coordinator, USW Seoul Office
Korean Millers, Bakers See Value in U.S. Wheat
In the late 1960s, Western Wheat Associates — one of U.S. Wheat Associates’ legacy organizations — sponsored the first trade team visit to the United States by Korean flour millers. Since then, 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. “We provide detailed information about each class of U.S. wheat every year and directly support the Korean Baking School, so our customers recognize the value of our wheat, especially for bread and pastry products — even though we are not the least-cost supply.”
The Korean wheat foods market is developing in a way that is similar to the U.S. market. 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. They are also relating food more and more to long-term health.
As a result, Korean 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.
USW is also adapting marketing strategies to match food and health trends. For example, USW has actively fostered an increasing interest in whole wheat foods by arranging in-country whole wheat baking seminars and other production courses, including at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, OR. These activities provide a positive environment in which to demonstrate the superior qualities of U.S. hard bread wheat classes and SW wheat in Korea’s emerging whole wheat product market.
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