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Japanese Millers Trade Team Visit Will Help Support Future Market Share
September 21, 2015
ARLINGTON, Virginia — In 2016, the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will mark 60 years with a marketing office in Japan, so it comes as no surprise that in marketing year 2014/15, Japan was the single largest buyer of wheat from the United States. In the same year, Japan was also the biggest market for U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and soft white (SW) wheat. To learn more about the high quality wheat to which their customers have become accustomed over the past 60 years, a team of mid-level managers from Japanese flour mills will visit Oregon, Idaho and Montana Sept. 20 to 26, 2015.

Millers on this team are executives from milling companies representing Japan’s National Cooperative of Millers. The first trade team from this group of millers visited the United States in 2014. USW collaborated with the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Oregon Wheat Commission and Idaho Wheat Commission to organize and host this year’s visit.

“These mid-level managers will eventually ascend to senior management positions and hopefully take with them an understanding that the United States produces the highest quality wheat for Japan,” said Steve Wirsching, USW vice president and director of the West Coast Office in Portland, OR. “This trade team visit creates an opportunity for us to increase their positive view of U.S. wheat and ensure we can continue to compete in Japan in the future.”

This trade team will bring individuals involved in milling, quality control and marketing to the United States to learn more about the effective wheat export supply chain and give them the opportunity to discuss logistical and quality assurance systems with the people who manage the U.S. wheat supply chain.

The milling managers will begin their trip in Portland, hosted by the USW West Coast Office, where they will be briefed by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and Wheat Marketing Center. While in Oregon, the team will also tour the Columbia Grains export terminal and visit OMIC USA. Continuing their trip in Boise, ID, the team will meet with Scoular Grain and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, and will tour the Swan Falls Dam and lock system on the Snake River. To complete their tour of the Pacific Northwest, the team will travel to Montana to tour shuttle train loading facilities operated by Gavilon Grain in Chester and United Grain in Moccasin. Other stops include the Central Ag Research Center near Moccasin and Myllymaki Farms outside of Livingston . Throughout their trip the team will have the opportunity to hear from each of the sponsoring state wheat commissions.

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.” The activities of USW are made possible by producer checkoff dollars managed by 18 state wheat commissions and through cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit www.uswheat.org or contact your state wheat commission.

Team Members

Mr. Yasutaka Kuwahara
Sub-Manager, Premix Team, Central Research Lab, Nitto Fuji Milling

Mr. Shinya Nagano
Operating Department, Taiyo Flour Milling

Mr. Kazuhito Takeuchi
Deputy Director, Manufacturing Division, Okinawa Flour Milling

Mr. Kenji Koibuchi
Managing Director, Flour Millers Association

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

United States-Japan Partnership in Wheat

“The Japanese domestic milling and baking industries are highly advanced and fully automated, and demand consistent, good quality U.S. wheat. It is crucial to provide appropriate information on U.S. wheat to the Japanese wheat industry because they must address concerns from an increasingly sensitive consumer base on issues such as pesticides, allergens and biotech products. USW will continue with trade servicing for Japanese customers to help them gain a deeper understanding of the true value of the U.S. wheat system from farm to table.”

— USW 2014/15 Unified Export Strategy

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 3.5 million metric tons (MMT) on average the last five years. Japan issues consistent, large, bi-monthly tenders for U.S. western white, a sub-class of SW, HRS and hard red winter (HRW) wheat classes.

Sophisticated Japanese flour mills and their customers demand very high standards of cleanliness and uniformity in addition to the variety of wheat classes to make the wide range of flour products for hundreds of different wheat food products — and U.S. wheat producers consistently meet those standards.

USW’s efforts in Japan and through trade team visits to the United States 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.

U.S. Wheat Sales to Japan
1,000 Metric Tons
Crop Year
(June - May)
HRW
SRW
HRS
White
Durum
Total
2015/16
343.7
0.0
374.3
294.5
0.3
1,012.9
2014/15
881.2
0.0
1,274.2
986.1
1.1
3,142.7
2013/14
1,005.2
51.2
1,167.1
854.4
1.4
3,079.3
2012/13
1,003.4
257.3
1,330.7
1057.1
0.7
3,649.3
2011/12
1,074.4
0.0
1,562.1
1207.6
0.7
3,844.7
2010/11
908.7
0.0
1,748.5
935.2
6.3
3,598.7
2009/10
963.2
1.5
1,518.3
879.8
0.4
3,363.1
2008/09
817.1
28.7
1,615.4
830.0
0.3
3,291.4
2007/08
1,079.3
18.7
1,568.2
798.9
0.0
3,465.1
2006/07
937.0
3.6
1,768.1
722.9
0.5
3,432.1
Data current through September 17, 2015

1One metric ton = 36.74 bushels

2With high corn prices, Japan purchased an unusual amount of soft red winter (SRW) for feed in 2012/13 and early in 2013/14.

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