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Japanese Milling Executives Take Coast to Coast Look at U.S. Wheat Crop
April 24, 2014


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ARLINGTON, Virginia — Five flour milling executives from Japan’s leading milling companies will travel coast to coast April 27 to May 5 for a firsthand look at this year’s wheat crop. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) regularly brings trade teams from Japan to the United States as part of long-term market development activities.

“USW maintains a constant effort to keep Japanese millers and end-uses aware of the merits of U.S. wheat,” said USW Country Director Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, based in Tokyo. “Teams like these allow USW to develop close working relations and mutual reliance between U.S. wheat growers and Japanese millers on a steady supply of high quality wheat.”

The team will make stops in Washington, DC, Fargo, ND, Omaha, NE and Portland, OR. During meetings with wheat farmers, grain industry representatives and university researchers, the team will discuss the U.S. wheat supply and demand picture, including anticipated quality, availability and price.

In addition to discussing the crop outlook, the team will discuss new innovations in wheat research, including biotech wheat and its role in growing more and better wheat with less impact on the environment. Meetings will also focus on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations that are underway between Japan, the United States and 10 other countries. Market access on agricultural goods, including wheat, has been a difficult area and is a focus area of the current U.S. and Japanese talks.

USW collaborated with the North American Export Grain Association, the North American Millers’ Association, USDA, the Nebraska Wheat Board, the North Dakota Wheat Commission, the Oregon Wheat Commission and the Northern Crops Institute to organize this trade team.

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. USW maintains 17 offices strategically located around the world to help wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six classes of U.S. wheat.

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2014 Japanese Milling Executives Team - Team Members

Mr. Toshifumi Horiuchi
General Manager, Nippon Flour Mills Co.

Mr. Kazuhiko Niitsuma
Managing Director, Showa Sangyo Co.

Mr. Shuhei Koga
President, Taiyo Flour Mills

Mr. Kazuhiro Takamine
Director and President, Torigoe Flour Mills

Mr. Masaaki Kadota
Executive Director, Flour Millers Association

Mr. Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya
Country Director, Japan, U.S. Wheat Associates

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 more than 3.14 million metric tons (MMT) on average the last five years. Japan issues consistent, large, bi-weekly tenders for U.S. hard red spring (HRS), hard red winter (HRW) and Western White, a sub-class of soft white (SW) 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.

For example, MAFF had suspended new purchases of Western White following the announcement in late May 2013 by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) that volunteer wheat plants with an unapproved genetically modified (GM) trait had been discovered in a single U.S. fallow field in the Pacific Northwest.

However, Japan announced it would resume new purchases of Western White on July 30, 2013. The following tender on Aug. 1, 2013 for this sub-class came as the result of thorough, science-based reviews of the ongoing APHIS investigation as well as a sustained effort by the U.S. wheat industry, USDA and others, along with their Japanese counterparts. USDA stated that this was an isolated incident, made it clear that wheat with this specific trait does not pose a food safety concern and reaffirmed that there is no “transgenic wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States at this time.”


U.S. Wheat Sales to Japan
1,000 Metric Tons
Crop Year
(June - May)
HRW
HRS
SRW
SW
Durum
HW
Total
2013
754
812
53
587
1
0
2,207
2012
959
1,328
214
1033
0
0
3,535
2011
966
1,395
0
1114
1
0
3,476
2010
829
1,630
0
848
3
0
3,310
2009
968
1,428
1
787
0
0
3,185
2008
850
1,510
29
751
0
0
3,140
2007
1,029
1,530
14
825
0
0
3,397
2006
881
1,674
4
659
0
0
3,218
2005
835
1,485
0
642
0
0
2,962
2004
1,043
1,399
0
687
0
0
3,130
Data current through April 1, 2013
NOTE: The Imports from U.S. by Class table is a summary of all wheat inspected for export by the Federal Grain Inspection Service.

One metric ton = 36.74 bushels

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