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Colombian Wheat Buyers Taking a Closer Look at the U.S. Wheat Marketing System
July 22, 2016
ARLINGTON, Virginia — A large purchasing decision demands serious consideration, and for wheat buyers from Colombia, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is adding value to that process by bringing them to the United States. Five executives from Colombia will visit North Dakota, Montana and Louisiana July 24 to 30, 2016, to gain a better understanding of the U.S. wheat industry and renew their familiarity with the advantages of the U.S wheat marketing system.

“This team represents the major flour, cookie and pasta groups in Colombia. They are experienced buyers and account for 40 percent of the country’s wheat imports in 2015,” said USW Assistant Regional Director Osvaldo Seco, who is leading the team. “They are directly responsible for evaluating and importing wheat for their organizations, and this trip will put them directly in contact with traders and better inform their purchasing decisions.”

With funding from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, USW collaborated with the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee (MWBC) to organize and host this trade team.

Colombia was the top destination for U.S. wheat in South America in marketing year 2015/16 (June to May), importing over 670,000 metric tons (MT) from four of the six U.S. wheat classes. The United States has typically supplied more than half of Colombia's 1.4 million metric tons (MMT) of annual wheat imports, in what is considered a competitive market. USW staff in its South American Region office in Santiago, Chile, has a history of providing technical performance information with Colombian millers and buyers to improve product quality using U.S. wheat.

The team will start its visit in Fargo, ND, to hear from a variety of North Dakota State University durum and spring wheat researchers on breeding and quality programs, pasta production techniques and pricing strategy. They will also meet with staff and growers from the NDWC and Northern Crops Institute, as well as visit a grain elevator and Todd Ellison’s farm in Mapleton, ND. In Great Falls, MT, the MWBC with host the team on tours of the State Grain Lab, Pasta Montana, General Mill, Columbia Grain and Arganbright farm in Carter, MT. The final leg of the trip will be to New Orleans, LA, where the team will visit the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) field office, and both a Bunge and Cargill grain elevator.

USW Marketing Specialist Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann will join the team in New Orleans.

“Colombia is a top destination for U.S. soft red winter and hard red winter, and this team is very representative of the Colombian industry. The agenda for this team is top-notch from the speakers and tours in North Dakota and Montana to the export terminal tours in New Orleans,” said Bryant-Erdmann. “This team will see U.S. wheat from farm to port, and I am excited to be able to accompany them.”

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 Colombia Trade Team - Members

Ms. Angelica Ospina
Director of Commodities, Harinera del Valle S.A.

Mr. Miguel Angel Manotas
Director of Operations, Productos Alimenticios Doria

Mr. Juan Manuel Martinez
Manager, Organizacion MAS

Mr. Fernando Pardo
General Manager, Harinera Pardo S.A.

Mr. German Zapata
Chief Procurement Officer, Servicios Nutresa S.A.S.

Mr. Osvaldo Seco
Assistant Regional Director, USW Santiago Office

The U. S. Wheat Industry Relationship with Colombia

Colombia was the top destination for U.S. wheat in South America in marketing year 2015/16, importing over 670,000 metric tons (MT) from four of the six U.S. wheat classes. The United States has typically supplied more than half of Colombia's 1.4 million metric tons (MMT) of annual wheat imports, in what is considered a competitive market.

Average wheat production in Colombia over the last ten years is 22,300 MT, with 10,000 MT in 2015 and 15,000 MT in 2014. Colombia does produce some wheat but climatic conditions limit farmers’ ability to produce high-quality milling wheat. As a result, less than half of the locally produced wheat is purchased by the milling industry. The mostly soft, low protein wheat is consumed locally in rural areas, mainly in soups or as an ingredient in typical dishes.

Total wheat consumption in Colombia for 2015/16 is estimated at 1.78 MMT, higher than the 5-year average of 1.51 MMT and 11 percent greater than the previous year due to an increased demand to produce cookies for export. Seventy-six percent of food wheat consumed is used to produce bread flour and pastries, 10 percent for cookies and crackers and 14 percent for pasta. Consumption is being stimulated by growth in the supermarket sector, which is expanding through consolidation and modernization.

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