With Vietnamese wheat imports projected to increase 40 percent in the next 10 years, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) cooperator U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is leveraging export market development funds to position U.S. wheat as the high quality, high value choice for milling and baking operations.
USW utilizes Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) funding, supplemented with checkoff dollars from state wheat commissions, to work directly with large volume millers and bakers in Vietnam to promote U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat and hard red winter (HRW) and develop better end-products with cake plants by using U.S. soft white (SW) wheat.
In June 2014, for example, USW conducted a Contracting for Value Workshop to help flour mill purchasing managers select the right classes and characteristics to extract the most benefit from U.S. wheat imports. Four mills in Vietnam now report using strategies presented in the workshop to help adjust contract specifications based on annual quality variations. One mill said USW’s trade servicing helped persuade them to include U.S. HRS in their long-term business plan and increased purchases of U.S. wheat from 9,600 MT in 2012 to 78,000 MT in 2014, a substantial increase in revenue. An additional procurement workshop in April 2014 convinced another mill to purchase 44,500 MT of U.S. wheat (25,000 MT U.S. HRS and 20,000 U.S. SW) even though the mill had typically purchased Canadian wheat at a lower price.
Also in 2014, USW continued encouraging cake plants to switch from Australian standard white (ASW) to U.S. SW to increase cake volume and extend product shelf life. After an educational seminar and in-plant consultations, seven cake plants in Vietnam now use 100 percent U.S. SW in their production of extended shelf life cakes.
As a result, Vietnam imported 243,000 MT of U.S. wheat in 2014/15. That is well above the 140,000 MT imported in 2013/14. Overall, for the past five marketing years, U.S. wheat sales have exceeded 100,000 MT per year, up from the previous decade average of 32,000 MT per year. That return comes from a much smaller investment in MAP and FMD funds over the past few years and a similar level of support from state wheat commissions.
USW’s long-term market development strategy in Vietnam is establishing a clear preference for U.S. HRS and SW wheat —all at a time when USDA predicts Vietnam’s wheat import demand to continue growing. The benefits will continue to return significant value to farmers and related industries in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.