Philippine Business Reporters to Get First Hand Look at U.S. Wheat Supply Chain
June 01, 2016
ARLINGTON, Virginia — For more than 54 years, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has provided trusted information about supply, quality and functionality of U.S. wheat and useful technical service to millers and the broader wheat foods industry in the Republic of the Philippines. This work, supported by farmers and export market development program funding administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), has created a strong preference for U.S. wheat in this Southeast Asian nation.
To help sustain that preference, USW has invited four influential Philippine journalists to the United States June 9 to 18, 2016, to learn more about U.S. wheat quality improvement, production and marketing. Ric Pinca, executive director of the Philippine Milling Association and Joe Sowers, USW assistant vice president and regional director for South Asia, who is based in Manila, will lead the team on visits to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Washington, DC.
“The Philippines is still a developing country so food can be a very sensitive issue,” Sowers said. “Cost and outside influences get attention, sometimes in ways that do not reflect the real situation, and Filipinos have questions about why so much U.S. wheat is imported. We want to show these influential reporters that our production and marketing systems are transparent and benefit the wheat food industry and consumers in the Philippines.”
In the PNW June 8 to 14, the reporters will follow the path U.S. wheat takes from the breeders’ field trials to a bulk vessel bound for an overseas port. USW’s West Coast Office in Portland, OR, in cooperation with the Oregon Wheat Commission, the Washington Grain Commission and the Idaho Wheat Commission will demonstrate how U.S. wheat quality and functionality is maintained from breeding and production through transportation. The reporters will also watch Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) officials independently certify that U.S. wheat meets buyer specifications before it is loaded for export.
In Washington, DC, June 15 to 17, USW headquarters staff will review the world and U.S. wheat supply and demand situation and how U.S. prices are determined. The reporters will meet with representatives from the domestic and export grain trade as well as USDA officials to discuss how the activities of several agencies benefit buyers. Policy developments, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are also on the agenda. Finally, the team will learn more about the U.S. milling and wheat foods industries and discuss such common issues as wheat food safety and nutrition before departing for the Philippines on June 18.
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 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. Its activities are made possible through producer checkoff dollars contributed by 18 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
2016 Philippine Media Team Members
Mr. Loreto Cabañes
Business Editor, Manila Bulletin
After studying agriculture at the University of the Philippines, Loreto became a reporter covering agriculture, equity markets and the banking system. In 1992 he became business editor of the “Manila Bulletin,” the oldest newspaper in the Philippines, established in 1900.
Mr. Ray Eñano
Business Editor, Manila Standard
Ray began writing for national publications in 1976 while finishing a degree in mass communications at Far Eastern University. Ray has covered a range of business and government sectors at the “Manila Bulletin,” “Manila Chronicle,” “Daily Globe” and “Manila Times.” He has been with the “Manila Standard” for 13 years where he writes a weekly column and editorial.
Ms. Marianne Go
Business Editor, Philippine Star
Marianne runs the business section of the “Philippine Star,” which was named the “2015 Business News Source of the Year” by the Economic Journalists Association.
Mr. Raul Marcelo
Business Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Raul has been in the media industry for more than 30 years. He was a reporter with the “Manila Chronicle” before arriving at his current position with the “Philippine Daily Inquirer,” the largest newspaper in the Philippines.
Mr. Ricardo Pinca
Executive Director, Philippine Millers Association
Ric has been involved in the flour milling industry for 27 years, currently representing the first and largest milling association in the Philippines with members who make up a combined milling capacity of 2.5 million metric tons (MMT) per year. He previously served as vice president of the Philippine Feed Millers Association and worked with General Milling Corporation.
Mr. Joseph Sowers
Assistant Regional Vice President, U.S. Wheat Associates, South Asia
Joe joined USW as market analyst in 2005 after work as a global grain and oilseed analyst with Global Insight. He became assistant regional director in USW’s Mexico City office in 2008 before transferring to his current position in Manila in 2011. Joe earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and master’s degree in agricultural economics from Virginia Tech University.
U.S. Wheat and the Philippines: A Legacy of Success
In 1961, Western Wheat Associates, one of the two organizations that later united to form USW, established an office in Manila. Since then, with the support of checkoff funding from state wheat commissions and export market development funding from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, USW has maintained close, long-term relationships with industry leaders in the Philippines.
USW staff has provided technical assistance, such as introducing new products and innovative baking methods, which support use of U.S. wheat and has maintained a strong industry preference for U.S. wheat quality, service and reliability. USW provides more marketing training than any competitor, with a resulting literacy of the U.S. system that increases buyer satisfaction and helps support the dominant U.S. market share. 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.
The Philippines was the third largest buyer of U.S. wheat in the 2015/16 marketing year with total imports reaching almost 81 million bushels (2.2 million metric tons) and the largest buyer of both soft white (SW) and hard red spring (HRS) wheat. The United States maintained a market share exceeding 90 percent of total Philippine milling wheat imports in 2015/16.
Still, challenges exist in this dynamic market. The milling industry is undergoing its most substantial transition in more than two decades. After not seeing a new entrant to the commercial flour market since 1990, several new mills recently entered the Philippine market. Established market shares, carved out over decades, are now being contested. At the same time, after years of growth equal to or below population growth, the flour market is expected to grow significantly in the near term.
Most troubling, Philippine millers have been subject to trade distortions caused by the Turkish government’s policies of import tariffs, an inward processing system and subsidies that support its wheat producers and flour millers. Despite trade protection recently won by Philippine millers, Turkish flour continues to enter the market, accounting for 8 percent of flour sales in 2015, enticing millers to compete in a low quality, low priced flour market. This situation has helped draw public attention to the milling industry’s reliance on U.S. milling wheat imports instead of often lower cost alternative sources.
Meanwhile, the milling and baking industries continue to undergo a generational transition as older participants transfer leadership to younger family members or staff. Sometimes industry knowledge is passed down, but in most cases this transition requires significant training in order to assure new market participants are capable of navigating the evolving international trading environment.
In the face of these opportunities and challenges, USW intends to continue collaborating with Philippine millers and bakers to support continuous flour and end-product quality improvement. Bringing a group of influential business reporters from the Philippines is a new, but important activity in this large but changing market.
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U.S. Wheat Associates prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital or family status, age, disability, political beliefs or sexual orientation. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact U.S. Wheat Associates at 202-463-0999 (TDD/TTY - 800-877-8339, or from outside the U.S.- 605-331-4923). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to Vice President of Finance, U.S. Wheat Associates, 3103 10th Street, North, Arlington, VA 22201, or call 202-463-0999. U.S. Wheat Associates is an equal opportunity provider and employer.