Korean Milling Executives Will Visit PNW for a First Look at New Wheat Crop
July 23, 2015
ARLINGTON, Virginia — Two executives representing Korean flour milling companies will chase combines in the Palouse region of Washington and the Columbia Valley of Oregon July 26 to Aug.1, 2015, to get a first look at this year’s wheat crop. Their visit, which includes a stop in Portland, OR, to learn more about the U.S. wheat supply system, is sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the Washington Grain Commission and the Oregon Wheat Commission.
The guests are Mr. Ha Jae Lee, who is the factory managing director of Daehan Flour Mills Co., Ltd., and Mr. Jeom Dae Kim, who is the managing director of Samwha Flour Mills Co., Ltd. Their guide is Chang Yoon Kang, USW country director based in Seoul, Korea, who said they hope to see soft white (SW), hard red winter (HRW) and possibly hard red spring (HRS) wheat being harvested.
“These are buyers for a market that is increasingly sophisticated so it is very important that they see this year’s crops,” Kang said. “Gaining a better understanding of the entire wheat chain, from the farm to the export elevator, will also help give them greater confidence in U.S. wheat supplies.”
In marketing year 2014/15 (June to May) Korea’s millers imported more than 43.3 million bushels of 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.
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).
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Korean Millers, Bakers See Value in U.S. Wheat
In the late 1960s, Western Wheat Associates — one of USW’s 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.
U.S. Wheat Sales to Korea
1,000 Metric Tons*
(June - May)
Data current through July 9, 2015
*One metric ton = 36.74 bushels