Fully disclosing the quality of new wheat crops is an effective trade service activity for USDA Foreign Agricultural Service cooperator U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to help its overseas customers prepare to purchase U.S. milling wheat. In South Asia, Crop Quality Seminars funded in part by the Market Access Program (MAP) directly stimulated sales of U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and soft white (SW) in 2018.
USW hosted three Crop Quality Seminars in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia in November 2018. Nearly 200 milling and baking companies participates in these seminars, including representatives from Vietnam, Malaysia and Burma (Myanmar) at the Bangkok Seminar.
The seminars present a wide range of data on the grade, protein, soundness, milling and baking quality of all six U.S. wheat classes. USW gathers this data throughout harvest from private and USDA partner organizations also funded by MAP. The final USW Crop Quality Report is printed and shipped to seminar locations. The teams that represent U.S. wheat include USW representatives from the United States and the organization’s South Asia Region, who come from offices in Singapore and Manila supported by Foreign Market Development (FMD) funds.
U.S. farmers and invited consultants also travel with the Crop Quality Teams. In 2018, for example, Dr. Art Bettge, retired Director of the USDA-ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory in Pullman, WA, presented information on the SW quality and breeding programs helping to meet growing demand for more and improved SW wheat from Asian markets. Dr. Senay Simsek, professor and head of Wheat Quality & Carbohydrate Research at North Dakota State University discussed HRS data and related U.S. food processing innovation related to “clean label” bread products.
U.S. grain merchandisers representing Pacific Northwest exporters and their regional affiliates joined the seminars in all three locations. They introduced the logistics, movement and other factors affecting wheat export prices. Their direct participation helped foster convenient connections between these private sellers and customers attending the seminars.
Participant surveys indicated the buyers rated the value of the content and speakers very highly. And the grain merchandisers reported booking export sales of more than 200,000 metric tons of U.S. HRS and SW with an approximate value of $50 million as a direct result of the seminars. The estimated investment in the three South Asian seminars from MAP funds and in-kind contributions from state wheat commissions is $130,000. Total accumulated export sales of HRS, SW and hard red winter (HRW) for marketing year 2018/19 to the countries represented at these three seminars reached a record level of almost 5.6 million metric tons, benefiting farmers and U.S. wheat supply industries in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Minnesota.