U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) frequently uses the unique U.S. grain inspection system to demonstrate a competitive advantage to the world’s wheat buyers. Now, with additional funding from the Agricultural Trade Program (ATP), USW is expanding its effort to demonstrate the integrity of the U.S. wheat supply chain in cooperation with the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).

The international affairs office of FGIS provides educational training programs to overseas buyers explaining the mission of the agency to certify the physical and contractual integrity of U.S. wheat and other grains. In July 2019 in Peru, a country the imports a total of 2.0 million metric tons (MMT) of wheat each year, USW worked with FGIS agent José Robinson to conduct half-day seminars for 53 quality control managers from the country’s five largest wheat importing companies. The participants also shared their processes with Robinson, showing examples of the wheat they inspected in plant. As a result, the managers were able to test their abilities to conduct similar inspections with guidance from directly from FGIS.

Under ATP, the USW South American regional representatives based in Santiago, Chile, plan to repeat this training activity in four other South American countries over the next two years.

USW believes this service for wheat importing customers gives them a deeper understanding of and increased trust and confidence in the FGIS inspection and certification process. The changes implemented in the mills following the training sessions should result in fewer discrepancies between the FGIS grade and the results of local, in-plant inspections, leading to increased satisfaction with U.S. wheat.

In addition, USW has earmarked ATP funds to conduct a similar FGIS Grain Inspection and Certification training session at the African Milling School in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2019. This session will be in part a “train the trainer” session for faculty members from the African Milling School and from the IFIM flour milling school in Casablanca, Morocco. Technical officials from the Office of Cereals in Algeria, the agency that plans and purchases the country’s wheat imports, and other participants from selected organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa will also participate.

Working with these schools extends knowledge of U.S. wheat value to flour millers throughout North and East Africa, as well as the Middle East. That is increasingly important in these competitive markets, especially in educating millers and processors in the growing cake and confection markets that need the specific information about the differential performance of U.S. soft red winter (SRW) and soft white (SW) wheat classes.

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is applying funds from the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program to expand its ability to conduct technical support to wheat buyers and end users in rapidly growing South Asian markets.

USW has had a long-term effort to help customers improve their products and processes through technical support, funded in part by the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. There is a strong connection between increased imports of U.S. wheat and the investment in milling and food production support. Looking at the highly sophisticated wheat food industries in Japan, Korea and others, USW’s long-term investment has benefited consumers in those countries while establishing strong and consistent export markets for U.S. wheat producers.

In such markets as Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia, the imported wheat customer base is expanding, and USW saw a need to increase its technical capabilities to match the growth. At the same time, USW knew that some senior technical staff were planning retirements.

The addition of ATP funding gave USW the opportunity to add a new Bakery Technician position to work with customers across the South Asian region. Adrian Redondo, an experienced food technologist and account manager, joined USW in June 2019. He will train with his experienced colleagues and build customer contacts through 2021 when the current USW bakery consultant based in the Philippines plans to retire. Without additional ATP funding, USW would have had to fund a new technician position from a limited pool of FMD funds that would, in effect, cut its ability to fund customer activities.

South Asian imports of U.S. hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat from family farms in the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains have grown from an average of about 3.0 million metric tons (MMT) per year 10 years ago to about 5.0 MMT in 2018/19. Future demand for wheat foods is expected to keep growing in the region. ATP funding provides a wide range of additional opportunities to continue differentiating U.S. wheat in markets like those in South Asia, with no local wheat production and where increasing incomes and urbanization are driving a rapid expansion of wheat food demand.

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is applying Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program funding to hold five “Cereal Chemistry Seminars” in 2019 and 2020 for the milling industries in Southeast Asia. USW believes that with a more complete understanding of the functional value of wheat proteins, carbohydrates and other properties, flour milling quality control managers will become more receptive to the high-quality characteristics of U.S. wheat compared to competing supplies.

In Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), the flour milling industry is expanding to meet the fast-growing demand for wheat food. However, many new managers lack the experience with U.S. wheat to evaluate its differential characteristics relative to its premium price, which puts a constraint on upside U.S. wheat export potential.

To provide the knowledge that will help fully understand the true value of U.S. wheat supplies, USW is developing a comprehensive seminar that will be conducted over the next two years. Seminars targeting about 50 technical staff from the milling and allied industries in each of the five markets will include such topics as Wheat Chemistry and Structure; Wheat Protein Analysis and Functionality; and Wheat Carbohydrate Chemistry and Functionality.

USW anticipates that after the seminars, participants will have enhanced skills to assist co-workers, suppliers and customers in developing new formulations requiring more specific flours and increased volumes of U.S. wheat classes. Participants will gain expertise in flour analysis and the importance of specifications required in large production bakeries. And quality control staff will have enough technical capabilities to defend the functional value of high-quality flour from U.S. wheat.

South Asian imports of U.S. hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat from family farms in the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains have grown from an average of about 3.0 million metric tons (MMT) per year 10 years ago to about 5.0 MMT in 2018/19. Future demand for wheat foods is expected to keep growing in the region. By funding opportunities like Cereal Chemistry Seminars, ATP is helping USW continue to give flour milling and baking managers the information they need to build a preference for U.S. wheat supplies.

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Ecuador’s per capita consumption of wheat foods has rapidly increased in recent years, supported in part by governmental regulations limiting imports of finished products. Over the years, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service cooperator U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has focused on demonstrating how using flour from U.S. hard red winter (HRW) can improve bread quality while reducing variable costs to build U.S. wheat share of Ecuador’s growing bread flour market.

The main constraint in this segment is a long-held reliance on higher protein Canadian wheat. To demonstrate the value of HRW wheat flour, USW used MAP funds in 2017 to conduct a baking seminar with a large commercial operation in Quito that supplies frozen dough and par-baked dough to fast food chains and the largest supermarket in Ecuador. The USW consultant demonstrated how the bakery could modify its processes using flour with a higher proportion of HRW wheat rather than with straight high-protein Canadian wheat flour and additives. This year, the company reported it has developed new products and will produce sliced bread and hamburger buns using HRW blended flour.

In September 2018, USW held seminars with two other bakeries with similar results. The seminars proved that U.S. HRW wheat flour reduced costs and improved the taste and quality of bread products. Both bakeries are changing their processes to product new products from the HRW blended flour. In 2019, USW also established its first contact with the largest commercial bakery in Ecuador that resulted in an agreement with USW to hold in-plant demonstrations of U.S. wheat flour blends.

To ensure HRW flour is available to those bakeries, USW has also conducted trade servicing and technical support for the largest flour miller in Ecuador. In June 2018, USW invited the main buyer from the premium mill to join a trade team to the United States. As a new employee of the mill, the buyer’s mind was more open to new opportunities and immediately after the trip he purchased a shipment of more than 11,000 metric tons of HRW and, in 2018, U.S. HRW and soft red winter (SRW) wheat made up 80% of the mill’s purchase volume. In 2019/20, under the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, USW will start to chip away at the Canadian wheat dominance at a large mill in Ecuador by bringing samples of HRW and in-plant technical support to demonstrate the value of the U.S. alternative.

USW has also expanded its activities with medium-sized mills that produce about 30% of Ecuador’s annual flour production. Since 2016, USW has conducted a variety of activities to help them purchase and process U.S. wheat as efficiently as possible. As a result, U.S. wheat is gaining a foothold, growing from 6.3% of the mid-sized mill purchases in 2017/18 to 15.8% in 2018/19.

Ecuador’s average annual purchase of HRW the past three marketing years is 101,000 metric tons, a significant increase over the three-year average of 46,200 metric tons in 2015/16 and SRW purchases of about 224,800 metric tons in 2018/19.