African Wheat Buyers Visit U.S. Wheat Industry
U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) anticipates new opportunities to export more U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure key wheat buyers in the region get the latest information they need about HRW quality and value, USW sponsored a delegation of flour milling executives from Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Liberia to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas June 11 to 21, 2018. Funding for the visit comes from USDA’s Foreign Market Development export programs with support from wheat commissions in those states.
The countries represented in this delegation are important markets for U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat, with higher import volumes in Nigeria and South Africa. The buyers first visited the Port of Corpus Christi, hosted by the Texas Wheat Producers Board. With hosts from the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, they visited country elevators, the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and experienced HRW harvest on Schieber Farms near Ponca City. While in Kansas, the flour millers toured the Grain Craft Wheat Quality Lab in Wichita, the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center and IGP Institute in Manhattan and Cargill Elevator and wheat harvest near Salina.
Kansas offers a good example of the opportunity these buyers represent for HRW wheat growers. Aaron Harries, Vice President of Research and Operations at Kansas Wheat, said Nigerian flour millers continue to be extremely good customers for Kansas wheat farmers.
“About half of the Kansas wheat crop is exported every year, and Nigeria has been a top buyer in recent years,” he said. “They love the consistent quality they get in wheat from the U.S. We want to be able to grow our market share in the Sub-Saharan region and build the same relationship of trust with our buyers in South Africa.”
U.S. wheat farmers, through trade servicing and technical support by USW helped establish flour milling as a highly successful industry in the west African nation of Nigeria. Hard red winter (HRW) became the standard source of flour for pan bread and instant noodles there. Demand for soft red winter (SRW) flour for snack foods grew together with durum for quality pasta.
Nigeria remains among the top volume customers of U.S. wheat, including more than 43.2 million bushels (1.18 million metric tons) of HRW and 8.3 million bushels (226,000 metric tons) imported in marketing year 2016/17 (June to May). Unfortunately, that volume is down significantly from previous years as lower priced Russian wheat gained market share in this quality conscious but cost sensitive market.
U.S. HRW wheat remains the dominant source of flour to make instant noodles and wet pasta in Nigeria and a key ingredient as a blending wheat for pan bread flour. USW will continue to keep buyers informed about U.S. wheat quality and a long-term effort to provide regular trade service, including this annual trade team visit, as well as training and technical assistance to the major Nigerian flour milling companies.
South Africa is a smaller market than Nigeria, but annual per capita wheat consumption is the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Though it varies widely year to year, South Africa produces about 50 percent of its 3.5 MMT annual wheat consumption. Wheat breeders and flour millers are working together to develop improved protein varieties of wheat for South African farmers so it can be blended with imported wheat. Millers prefer imports of HRW and similar classes of German and Argentinian wheat and tend to buy more of whatever is the least expensive. They are also consistent SRW buyers.
U.S. HRW was much more competitive the past two marketing years. In fact, South African millers imported HRW for the first time in five years in 2016/17. USW kept up the momentum in that marketing year by bringing representatives from a prominent milling company to the United States to observe production and be even better prepared to take advantage of favorable prices this marketing year. Although their pace of imports is down, South African millers have kept HRW in their blends again this year.
USW’s mission is to develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers in more than 100 countries. Its activities are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 17 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
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