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Philippine Team Travels Coast to Coast to Talk Policy and Crop Quality
October 17, 2013
ARLINGTON, Virginia — A Philippine trade team will travel coast to coast Oct. 19 to 27 to see this year’s U.S. wheat crop and discuss trade policy issues that are having detrimental effects on the Philippine milling industry and U.S. wheat exports.

The delegation includes the director of the Philippine Association of Flour Millers (PAFMIL) and key decision makers at three of the leading flour mills in the Philippines. While in Washington, DC, the team is scheduled to meet with U.S. government officials and grain industry organizations to discuss what PAFMIL and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) consider dumping of Turkish flour into the Philippine market.

“With 52 years of partnership, USW has maintained a long-term, almost familial, relationship with the Philippine milling and baking industry,” said Manila-based USW Assistant Regional Director Joe Sowers, who will accompany the team. “Bringing these team members together with policy experts within the U.S. government and allied organizations to discuss important issues and explore potential solutions ultimately benefits both U.S. wheat farmers and some of their best customers.”

Sowers added that meeting with the U.S. wheat industry is a highlight for the team. During stops in Oregon and North Dakota, team members will gather information on the soft white (SW), hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat crops. Participants will also discuss end-product functionality with public and private wheat breeders.

The Philippine trade team is sponsored in part by the Washington Grain Commission, North Dakota Wheat Commission and Montana Wheat & Barley Committee in addition to funding from market development programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. USW also collaborated with the Oregon Wheat Commission on this team.

USW (initially its legacy organization Western Wheat Associates) has maintained an office in the Philippines – as well as relationships with industry leaders – since 1961. Since that time, the Philippines increased wheat imports from 200,000 metric tons in 1961, to nearly 2 million metric tons with a U.S. market share that exceeded 90 percent of milling wheat imports in 2012/13. Today, the Philippines is the second largest importer of U.S. SW and HRS wheat in the world and imports more wheat than any other U.S. agricultural product.

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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2013 Philippine Team - Team Members

Mr. Ric Pinca
Executive Director, Philippine Millers Association
Mr. Ric Pinca represents the oldest milling association in the Philippines, the Philippine Millers Association (PAFMIL). The seven PAFMIL mills have a combined milling capacity of 2.5 MMT per year or 8,450 MT/day.

Mr. Norman Uy
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Republic Flour Mills
Mr. Norman Uy runs RFM, a 1,000 MT/day mill that is vertically integrated, producing 3,000 kg of pasta every day as well as 300,000 hamburger buns each day for the country’s McDonald’s franchises. Mr. Uy is the primary wheat buyer for a group of five mills known as the “Manila mills,” an unofficial buying consortium that purchases approximately 500,000 MT of wheat each year, all of it from the United States.

Mr. Ellison Dean Lee
Vice President and General Manager, Universal Robina Corporation
Mr. Ellison Dean Lee directs the milling arm of this consortium that owns the market-leading airline in the Philippines, supermarket and hotel chains in addition to a bank. URC has three mills with a combined capacity of 1,550/day, making it the fourth largest milling company in the country.

Mr. Poyen Policarpio
President, San Miguel Mills
Mr. Poyen Policarpio heads the largest mill in the Philippines and is the past president of the second milling association in the Philippines, the Chamber of Philippine Flour Millers or CHAMPFLOUR. San Miguel is a market leader in many food industry segments and imports more than 350,000 MT of wheat per year.

Mr. Joseph K. Sowers
USW Assistant Regional Director, South Asia
Before coming to USW, Mr. Joe Sowers analyzed global grain and oilseed markets with the economic consulting firm Global Insight. He served as the senior market analyst in the USW Headquarters Office in Arlington, VA, before moving to the USW Mexico City Office as assistant regional director. In 2011, he transferred to his current post as head of the USW Manila Office.

U.S.-Philippine Partnership in Wheat

Few overseas customers have shown such consistent loyalty to U.S. wheat as the millers and bakers in the Republic of the Philippines. For more than five decades, USW has offered transparent market intelligence and useful technical information to help improve the profitability of their businesses. In return, they increased annual wheat imports from 200,000 metric tons in 1961, when USW’s legacy organization, Western Wheat Associates, opened its office in Manila, to nearly 2 million metric tons and a U.S. market share that exceeded 90 percent of milling wheat imports in 2012/13.

Today, the Philippines is the second largest importer of U.S. soft white (SW) and hard red spring (HRS) wheat in the world and imports more wheat than any other U.S. agricultural product.

USW staff provides technical assistance to Filipino millers and bakers, such as introducing new products and innovative baking methods that support the use of U.S. wheat. These activities have created a strong industry preference for U.S. wheat quality and reliability. USW’s investment in activities to increase wheat flour consumption, including wheat foods education and marketing campaigns, is further evidence of the USW’s commitment to the Filipino industry.

Uncle Slocumm’s American Recipe

Over the years in the Philippines, USW has encouraged mills to produce and market quality flour using high protein hard red winter (HRW) and HRS for bread products and low protein SW wheat for cakes and confectionery products. USW baking courses, often held in partnership with the Filipino-Chinese Bakers Association, position U.S. wheat classes as viable alternatives to competing Canadian and nearby Australian wheat. In fact, Gardenia Baking Co., the largest commercial bakery in the Philippines demands only flour made with imported U.S. wheat. As a result, all of its products, including one of its most popular brands – “Uncle Slocumm’s American Recipe” white pan bread – are made with 100 percent U.S. wheat.

Sharing a Commitment to Growth

Per capita wheat growth has increased steadily in other South Asian countries, but has remained flat in the Philippines. That is why USW, the Philippine Association of Flour Millers Inc. and the Chamber of Philippine Flour Millers are working together to promote bread consumption for its health benefits and to encourage bakers and bakery owners to patronize locally milled flour. The campaign is called “Mubahay Tinapay!” – loosely translated to mean “Live Better with Bread.”

Defending Against Unfair Competition

Philippine millers and USW have engaged in a multi-year effort to counteract trade distortions caused by the Turkish government’s policies of import tariffs, inward processing system and subsidies that support its wheat producers and flour millers. The culmination of Turkish policies has resulted in Turkish flour being offered in the Philippines at prices below fair market value. Combating unfair trade policies will protect the flour milling from unfair competition, allowing them to thrive and grow.

U.S. Wheat Sales to the Philippines
1,000 Metric Tons*
Crop Year
(June - May)
HRW
HRS
SRW
SW
Durum
HW
Total
2013
14
382
2
260
0
0
657
2012
27
1,074
0
797
0
0
1,897
2011
50
1,187
0
822
0
0
2,059
2010
17
932
0
803
0
1
1,753
2009
31
793
0
775
0
0
1,599
2008
33
779
16
608
0
0
1,436
2007
6
816
2
694
0
0
1,518
2006
11
939
10
767
0
0
1,727
2005
11
956
1
712
0
9
1,688
2004
10
1,019
0
757
0
0
1,787
Data current through September 24, 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
**Due to the delay in federal statistics, this is the most current data available.

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