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Global demand for wheat food grows stronger every year, making exports vitally important to U.S. wheat farmers. As the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works to help wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six U.S. wheat classes. USW relies on its successful working relationships with world-class educational partners that, through courses, workshops and seminars, enhance the technical and trade service assistance to help separate U.S. wheat from its competitors. One of those partners is the Northern Crops Institute (NCI) in Fargo, N.D.

NCI is a collaborative effort by North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota to support the promotion and market development of crops grown in the four-state region. Since 1979, NCI has been an international meeting and learning center that brings together customers, commodity traders, technical experts and processors for discussion, education and technical services. Situated on the North Dakota State University (NDSU) campus, this unique facility is only minutes from the farm fields that yield much of the world’s food. From the beginning, USW was involved in helping establish NCI and its mission and, since then, has sponsored hundreds of U.S. durum and spring wheat customers from around the world to participate in NCI programming.

A Global Reputation

NCI’s director, Mark Jirik, understands the institute’s strong tradition and reputation as a reliable resource for the U.S. wheat industry. From the start, he was impressed to witness the relationship NCI has with USW and the supporting state wheat commissions.

“This region is known as the heart of spring wheat country, a crop with a worldwide reputation for quality, so our focus on wheat has always been a baseline here on the upper Great Plains. People have made it their life’s work to make sure the world understands the quality and value of U.S. spring and durum wheat,” said Jirik. “The U.S. wheat industry is visionary and forward-thinking regarding quality. It is humbling to see the U.S. wheat industry’s vision and that its participants continue to support NCI, even when times may be tough.”

NCI provides hands-on programming that enables participants to learn about northern climate crops and their unique qualities, marketability and processing characteristics. Its laboratories are equipped for baking, pasta processing, twin-screw extrusion, grain grading and commodity and product analyses. The pilot-sized swing mill and the Feed Production Center enhance the NCI staff’s ability to demonstrate the varied uses of northern-grown crops. The NDSU Commodity Trading Room offers a live experience for participants to learn how to extract and analyze information and make decisions concerning risk and risk management.

Training for U.S. Wheat Customers

Every year USW sponsors customers from around the world to attend NCI courses focused on contracting for wheat value and grain procurement management for importers. In 2020 and 2021, those courses continued virtually. Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President for South Asia, regularly brings customers to NCI and has participated in a course himself.

“The Northern Crops Institute grain procurement course offers innovative training in state-of-the-art facilities, such as the NDSU commodity trading laboratory,” said Sowers. “Participants observe the mechanics of the U.S. wheat marketing system from production to storage, and transport to export, providing them with crucial information fundamental in grain purchasing. Spending nearly two weeks with buyers worldwide, participants gain useful contacts they will maintain throughout their careers.”

When participants complete a course at NCI, Jirik wants them to have a solid understanding of the value and quality — and the heart — that goes into the products they buy. “I want them to think, ‘Wow, what a fantastic experience. I understand now why I should be using U.S. wheat in my products.”

Northern Crops Institute staff with USW technical experts.

Technical Training. USW technical staff visited the Northern Crops Institute in March 2022 for a core competency training session. Our team heard presentations from their peers and industry professionals and participated in demonstrations and tours of NCI’s labs. The main focus of their training was to learn more about solvent retention capacity (SRC) and explore different methods used to obtain results. Read more about their visit to NCI.

Adapting to Digital

In Summer 2020, NCI expanded its offerings to include regular online webinars in order to better reach customers and stakeholders as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to create barriers to connecting in person.

Currently, there are three series. The “NCI Market Update” is featured twice a month. On the first Wednesday of the month, the focus is on hot topics in the commodity markets. The third Wednesday of the month features hour-long commodity market updates where guest speakers share the latest news and analysis impacting the global commodity markets. The “Cereal Innovators” series focuses on new and unique ways to use cereal grains. Topics include new processes, useful information on milling and baking, equipment information, and uses for cereal grains grown in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The “Future of Feeding” series focuses on using innovation in the processing of animal food, the equipment being used (existing and newly developed), as well as using grains from the region for co-products. View past webinars and register for upcoming webinars here.

“The pandemic forced us to think about how we deliver content and build relationships in ways we’ve never had to do before. The webinars have been instrumental in keeping our global customers informed of market trends and conditions, but have also helped us raise issues and ideas that are helping us produce better courses and other programming for the future,” said Jirik. “Being online has allowed us to connect with customers that we would never have had the opportunity to work with in the past. NCI is looking forward to having people back in Fargo, but the webinars, online courses and other delivery methods allow us to build even better relationships with a wider range of audiences.”

Learn more about the Northern Crops Institute and its programming and services at www.northern-crops.com.

By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications

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Global demand for wheat food grows stronger every year, making exports vitally important to U.S. wheat farmers. As the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works to help wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six U.S. wheat classes. USW relies on its successful working relationships with world-class educational partners that enhance its technical and trade service assistance to help separate U.S. wheat from its competitors. One of those partners is the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Ore.

Located in the historic Albers Mill Building, WMC is a research and educational bridge between U.S. wheat farmers and their customers, dedicated to linking quality wheat and quality end products.

“Consumer tastes are evolving in domestic and international markets,” said Janice Cooper*, WMC Managing Director. “WMC’s programs demonstrate how U.S. wheat can be used to meet changing consumer demand with products that are nutritious and cost-competitive.”

In the mid-1980s, several state wheat commissions saw a need for a research and training facility to help U.S. wheat customers understand how to utilize U.S. wheat best. With the help of the late Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield – who helped secure a federal grant to renovate the Albers Mill Building – WMC opened in 1988. Its charter members, state wheat commissions from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska and the Port of Portland, and five additional industry members make up its board leadership. The building is also home to the Oregon Wheat Commission, Federal Grain Inspection Service, and the USW West Coast Office.

Wheat Marketing Center staff with USW technical experts.

Technical Training. Dr. Jayne Bock, Wheat Marketing Center Technical Director, discusses baguette qualities with David Oh, USW Seoul; Adrian Redondo, USW Manila; and WMC Managing Director Janice Cooper in March during a core competency training session.

Three Pillars of Work

WMC programming focuses on three pillars: technical training, research and crop quality testing.

Every year, USW identifies U.S. wheat market needs and works in partnership with WMC to provide technical training courses focused on addressing those topics. In March, WMC welcomed USW technical staff from around the world to a dynamic course focusing on technical solutions to customer challenges. And USW has commissioned several new research projects from WMC related to rapid visco analysis (RVA), sponge cake methodology, U.S. wheat flour blending options and other studies that will benefit overseas customers.

WMC also hosts a variety of other technical training courses, including independent courses that it organizes itself, partnerships with other entities and custom proprietary company courses.

In addition to technical training, WMC is involved in innovative research and product development.

“We identify research projects based on market need and market opportunity,” said Cooper. “If there is a challenge with the wheat harvest, we identify what research can be done to help navigate U.S. wheat customers through those challenges. Likewise, we study market demand and look for opportunities to help the industry move in new directions with new products.”

WMC uses its several pilot-scale lines to give participants a hands-on experience.

“From crackers to Asian noodles and cookies to a full baking lab, we have the ability to make a wide array of wheat products in-house,” said Cooper. “This equipment is the perfect size to link what is done in a research and development lab and a full-scale food production facility, which is ideal for research, training and product development.”

Bon Lee, WMC Operations Manager, displays noodle dough

Noodle Line Ready. Bon Lee, Wheat Marketing Center Operations Manager, holds dough strips to be used in the educational partner’s pilot noodle line. In the background, Claudia Gomez, USW Santiago; David Oh, USW Seoul; and Wei-lin Chou, USW Taipei, were at the WMC with other USW technical colleagues in March for a training conference.

Testing the quality of the crop is also an important service WMC provides. Each year it tests the quality of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) harvest and makes those results available in weekly reports on its website, as well as in USW’s weekly harvest report. WMC is responsible for the soft white (SW) and hard white (HW) wheat analysis featured in the annual USW Crop Quality Report and an additional, more extensive SW regional report.

Customer Focus

While many of its programs are focused on U.S. wheat customers, it is also important for the WMC to share why striving for better wheat quality is important and at the root of its mission. Throughout the year, WMC hosts several grower workshops and programs for other visiting food and agriculture groups.

“The best way to explain what we do and why is for people to visit,” said Cooper. “With the other wheat industry partners in our building and our proximity to the many export elevators here, it makes visiting the Wheat Marketing Center a well-rounded opportunity.”

For those searching for more information instead of a visit, the WMC website serves as a gateway for valuable multi-media resources on research, the facility’s equipment, crop quality and testing. Ultimately, Cooper wants U.S. wheat farmers and customers to understand how WMC is helping the industry continue to move forward.

Building Knowledge

“We are unique because our focus is on end products, technology and giving customers a hands-on opportunity to take products made with a control flour that they are already using and compare it side by side with U.S. wheat and see the difference for themselves,” said Cooper. “Customers leave with a better appreciation of how valuable U.S. wheat really is and an understanding of the commitment made by U.S. wheat farmers to provide the flour they need to make the highest quality end products they are looking for.”

Learn more about the Wheat Marketing Center and its programming and services at https://www.wmcinc.org/.

*Cooper plans to retire from WMC in 2022, and the search for her successor is underway. Also, WMC has hired Ms. Liman Liu to train with Bon Lee. Liu has extensive commercial baking and product development experience, having spent the last eight years at Dave’s Killer Bread (now part of Flowers Foods.)

By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications

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This article on wheat digestibility is reprinted with permission from Prairie Grains and written by the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI). Additional thanks to the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council, a member of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW).

In past issues of Prairie Grains Magazine, [AURI has] highlighted ongoing research investigating ways to reduce potentially reactive components of wheat, like FODMAPs and ATIs. FODMAPs are sugars, known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. ATIs are proteins called amylase-trypsin inhibitors. Research indicates that “anti-nutrients,” such as ATIs, and fructans (a component of FODMAPs) in wheat have been identified as triggers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Not By Gluten Alone

There is a growing understanding that wheat digestibility issues may not be solely caused by gluten sensitivity but are also related to the presence of FODMAPs and ATIs. According to Dr. George Annor, assistant professor of cereal chemistry and technology at the University of Minnesota, FODMAPs are normally present in small quantities and tolerated by most.

However, foods with more than 0.3 grams per serving (the equivalent of two slices or more of bread) … can cause issues. FODMAPs are best tolerated if less than 0.3 grams per serving.

For individuals with this sensitivity, changes to wheat characteristics or processing techniques can result in more digestible products, increasing quality of life for consumers and allowing them to enjoy the health benefits of wheat products.

There is a growing understanding that wheat digestibility issues may not be solely caused by gluten sensitivity but are also related to the presence of FODMAPs and ATIs.

Conducted through a partnership between the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council (MWRPC), the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and its Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, as well as Back When Foods, Inc., this research has the potential to create new products and processes that will positively impact the entire wheat industry value chain.

The hypothesis set for this research is that ATIs and FODMAPS can be reduced through breeding programs and processing techniques (i.e. sourdough fermentation) of modern, heritage and ancient wheat. The reason this topic is important to wheat growers and the entire industry is researchers’ belief these reactive components are triggers of non-celiac gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which cause many people to avoid wheat-based products. Instead, they look for less-reactive products, thus reducing the overall consumption of wheat-based products impacting the industry overall. Until now.

The MWRPC and its partners undertook this endeavor in order to create new opportunities for wheat-based products, consumable by those with wheat digestion concerns. Additionally, the study has the potential to provide new market opportunities that could have a positive financial impact for growers, the wheat industry and Minnesota.

Sliced pan bread and artisan bread loaves for article on wheat digestibility

Research suggests that wheat breeding has not increased FODMAP nor ATI levels in modern wheat varieties.

“We have identified significant variation in FODMAP and ATI levels in a diverse panel of wheat varieties, including among modern wheat germplasm,” said Dr. James Anderson, professor of wheat breeding and genetics at the U of M. “This variation may allow us to selectively breed for lower levels of these anti-nutrients. The ancient Einkorn and Emmer wheats were consistently low in FODMAPs, and Einkorn was also low in ATIs.”

Annor said research shows that sourdough production can help reduce the amount of FODMAPS and ATIs in wheat.

“Screening the ancient, heritage and modern wheat varieties for their FODMAPs and ATI gave us important insights into how these parameters vary in different wheat varieties,” Annor said. “It was apparent that we have not inherently bred them for increased levels of FODMAPs and ATI over the years. Our study also showed that fermentation was very effective in reducing FODMAPs and ATI levels in wheat in the form of sourdough. These results tell us that sourdough production can be effectively used to reduce the levels of FODMAPs and ATIs in wheat.”

New Approaches

Coupled with breeding efforts to reduce the levels of anti-nutrients in wheat lines, the degradation of FODMAPs and ATIs through sourdough fermentation provides immediate opportunities for wheat growers to regain market share by focusing their efforts on channeling their crops directly to the ever-growing artisan bakery sector. An additional channel for growers to use the research findings is in support of ongoing breeding programs and low FODMAP certification, in which large-scale processors have shown great interest.

“Both FODMAP and ATI levels appear to be under complex genetic control,” Anderson said, “thus making the selective breeding of these traits more difficult. But I’m optimistic that we can make breeding progress.” Anderson added that new approaches involving DNA sequencing and genomic prediction will be used to enhance our breeding efforts to reduce FODMAP and ATI levels.

As the project researchers and partners continue to seek ways to have a meaningful impact on the wheat industry overall, plans are underway to continue to build upon these recent findings in a second phase that focuses on further development of wheat varieties that not only have improved digestibility but also have high amylose and resistant starch content for a lower glycemic index and improved gut health (microbiome).

Financial support for this project is provided by an Agricultural Growth, Research, & Innovation Crop Research Grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The AGRI program awards grants, scholarships and cost shares to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries.

For more information about the AGRI program, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/agri. To learn more about AGRI Crop Research Grants, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/cropresearch. For more information, and to follow this research, visit www.auri.org/agri.

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By Catherine Miller, USW Programs Coordinator

With the COVID-19 pandemic still lingering in 2021, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) continued to provide reliable, high-quality service to customers worldwide via virtual programming. The pandemic’s start quickly brought challenges that no industry in modern history had experienced on such an immediate, global scale. However, USW quickly pivoted and adapted its programs. That experience and valued feedback we received better prepared USW to improve and expand virtual programs in 2021.

USW conducted more than 315 virtual programs in 2021 and reached over 13,000 participants. This increased from 296 virtual programs and 11,000 participants in 2020, even as some regions slowly began implementing in-person activities again this year. The chart below showcases a breakdown of the types of USW programs and compares virtual participant reach in 2020 and 2021 to pre-pandemic, in-person participant numbers in 2019.

Estimated number of participants in USW programs 2019-2021

“Marketing year (MY) 2021/22 combined ending stocks of major wheat exporters are projected to reach their lowest level in more than ten years. This tighter supply outlook among exporters pushed wheat prices to historically high levels, and adverse global weather

Mike Spier

Mike Spier, USW Vice President of Overseas Operations

conditions intensified market volatility,” said USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier. “In 2021, USW overseas staff rose to the challenge and increased the number of customers reached through crop and market updates by more than 1,000 participants compared to similar programs in 2020. This increased frequency in virtual programs and timely market information kept buyers around the world informed of the latest wheat price, production and quality trends, helping them navigate tighter supplies, price volatility and challenges brought on by the pandemic.”

In 2021, USW hosted a new monthly webinar series, “Creating Value for U.S. Wheat,” hosted by Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global and Technical Services. With assistance from Catherine Miller, USW Programs Coordinator, the seven-part series featured technical topics and current market trends such as solvent retention capacity (SRC), flour blending, flour particle size impact, stream selection and more. Webinar speakers included USW’s in-house technical staff, including Fowler, Roy Chung, Ivan Goh, Tarik Gahi, Peter Lloyd and Andrés Saturno. The monthly webinars ran from April to October and reached more than 1,840 participants.

Another highlight from USW’s 2021 virtual programming was the first-ever “School of Wheat Quality Course.” USW collaborated with Dr. Senay Simsek, Purdue University, and Brian Sorenson, Northern Crops Institute (NCI), who designed and executed two intensive 6-week virtual sessions for customers in South and Southeast Asia. Participants took a deep dive into the various steps of wheat quality testing from field to table through live-streamed lectures and demonstrations. Benchmark exams were conducted throughout the 6-week course and were a requirement for graduation—a helpful tool to ensure participants stayed engaged.

“These courses provided foundational instruction on testing wheat and flour quality. Training mill staff how to accurately measure quality parameters and compare attributes offered by different types of wheat helps illustrate the superior quality of U.S. wheat classes,” said USW Regional Vice President for South Asia Joe Sowers. “Courses like this are a win-win for USW and our stakeholders. They facilitate the success of collaborating millers while proving the value proposition of using U.S. wheat.”

For the U.S. wheat industry and its overseas customers, who share historically long connections, meeting together in person here and abroad has always been paramount to its successful relationships. While the value of face-to-face activities is irreplaceable, the unique opportunity to increase USW’s reach to customers has become a silver lining to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Going forward, USW sees the value in leveraging a mix of in-person and virtual programming to best serve its customers.

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) sees a robust growth opportunity for U.S. wheat exports to South America. To meet rising demand for bread, snacks and other wheat foods, regional flour millers are hungry for information they need to purchase a wider range of high-quality wheat classes.

U.S. wheat must compete in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Brazil and other South American countries with imported Canadian and Argentinian wheat. Technical training and comparative analysis to demonstrate the advantages of U.S. wheat classes are important parts of USW’s work in the region. However, those efforts are somewhat constrained because a substantial portion of the funding for activities was needed for travel costs to conduct activities in sometimes limited facilities in each country or at U.S. educational institutions.

ATP Funding Yields Innovative Idea

A potential answer to this challenge arrived in 2019 when the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), was created to help U.S. agriculture build new export markets. Under ATP, USW’s regional South American office staff in Santiago, Chile, proposed an innovative promotional concept to establish a regional flour milling, cereal chemistry and baking laboratory in cooperation with a respected university.

Through pandemic-related delays and customs challenges, USW and its project partner, Universidad Mayor, worked steadily to build a facility on the university’s Santiago campus and equip the lab with a test flour mill, wheat and flour analysis instruments and bread ovens. On Dec. 3, 2021, USW and the university dedicated Laboratorio De Analisis De Granos Harinas Y Panifcacion at an event attended by Chile’s Minister of Agriculture, U.S. State Department and FAS officials, the university rector and executives with several Chilean flour mills.

Photos show honored guests at the dedication of the new lab.

Honored Guests. Learning more about the new lab are, (L to R): Bret Tate, Agricultural Attaché, USDA/FAS; Lisa Swenarski, Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. State Department; Pedro Pablo Lagos, Purchasing Manager, Luchetti Pasta, Santiago, Chile; Andrés Saturno, Technical Manager, USW/Santiago; Miguel Galdós, Regional Director, USW/Santiago; Lisa Swenarski; María Emilia Undurraga, Chilean Minister of Agriculture; Dr. Patricio Manque, Rector, Universidad Mayor. Photos courtesy of Universidad Mayor.

“We are very pleased to open the first lab of its kind in this region with Universidad Mayor,” said Miguel Galdós, USW Regional Director, South America. “We know that technical managers at South American flour mills have more influence today on the types of wheat their mills need to purchase. USW will be able to help more of those managers understand the differential advantages of U.S. wheat classes by conducting programs at this regional lab. At the same time, having access to consistent and reliable testing and analysis will lead to improvements in production processes and help improve the quality of regional wheat-based end products.”

More Efficient, More Effective

“Before now, South American millers would have to send wheat samples to a commercial company in Guatemala for analysis, so this lab adds much more efficiency in its support for regional customers,” said Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services, who participated in the dedication event.

As a partner in the new lab, USW purchased and installed all the equipment using ATP funds, while Universidad Mayor built the lab and will cover fixed costs. USW Santiago in return will share equal access with the university to the lab for technical support activities supporting U.S. wheat exports to South America and remain the lab’s only private partner for 15 years.

Photo shows instruments in a new laboratory for measuring wheat quality that will support wheat exports to South America.

Fully Equipped. USW donated the instruments needed to analyze and compare wheat, flour and baking performance at the new lab. Funding for the equipment came from the Agricultural Trade Promotion program administered by USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service. Photo courtesy of Universidad Mayor.

Golden Opportunity

After attending the dedication event, USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier called the new lab “a golden opportunity” to demonstrate the competitive baking advantage of U.S. wheat classes compared to wheat from other origins.

“With the ever-changing travel restrictions and quarantines, USW hasn’t been able to organize in-person technical activities for several months,” Spier said. “The lab provides everything USW Technical Specialist Andrés Saturno needs to get back to demonstrating the superior end-use baking performance of U.S. wheat classes to partners in Chile and other customers in USW’s South America region.”

Impressive Team and Project

For USW Chairman Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Ore., the dedication event was his first overseas trip to meet with customers in more than two years and his first visit to South America.

“I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of the regional USW team and among the guests at the dedication for this new lab,” Padget said. “I understand why, partly because we visited a supermarket in Santiago and saw the types of bread consumers purchase and how they shop. In Chile, consumption is very high, and they buy most of their bread for the day by the piece. Consumers there and across South America are looking for excellent quality products with a ‘clean label’ – very few additives. I think this lab will help USW demonstrate how flour from our wheat helps millers and bakers meet that demand.”

The evidence of that was on display at the dedication event as artfully crafted bread products and pizza refreshments baked by Master Baker Didier Rosada and his wife Kathy Cruz using flour milled from U.S. wheat. USW frequently works with Rosada’s Red Brick Consulting company to conduct baking seminars in Spanish-speaking countries. The week of the dedication, Rosada and USW held a workshop using U.S. wheat flour for customers representing 75% of Chile’s milling industry.

 

Impressive artisan bread products display.

An Artful Display. Master Baker Didier Rosada and Katherine Cruz, Red Brick Consulting, produced this impressive display of bread products admired by and shared with guests at the dedication of the new lab, Dec. 3, in Santiago, Chile. Photo courtesy of Universidad Mayor.

Traditional preferences and the landed price of imported wheat will remain a competitive challenge for U.S. wheat in South America. But the complete value of U.S. wheat becomes more obvious to customers through demonstration and training. Now there is a dedicated facility for that work, giving USW the opportunity to interact with regional customers more frequently and invest more of its funding to show them the unique advantages of U.S. wheat.

USW Colleagues at the Lab Dedication that will support Wheat Exports to South America.

Proud Colleagues. The USW/Santiago team who worked tirelessly to build the new laboratory to promote U.S. wheat exports to South America shared their enthusiasm for the project with USW guests. L to R: Mark Fowler, Vice President of Global Technical Services; Maria Martinez, Administrative Assistant; Andres Saturno, Claudia Gomez, Senior Marketing Specialist; Mike Spier, Vice President of Overseas Operations; Paola Valdivia, Finance & Administrative Manager; Miguel Galdos; Osvaldo Seco, Assistant Regional Director; and Darren Padget, USW Chairman.

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) links overseas customers directly to the wheat they purchase and to the farmers who grow it by sponsoring participants at short courses, bringing trade delegations to the United States, creating end-product seminars and sending experts overseas. USW and the world’s wheat buyers are fortunate to work with world-class educational partners including Northern Crops Institute (NCI), IGP Institute and Wheat Marketing Center.

This week, Northern Crops Institute announced a series of market update webinars on topics that should be valuable to overseas customers and stakeholders here in the United States. Following are webinar descriptions, dates, times and registration information.

“July World Agricultural Supply and Demand Update Featuring Tregg Cronin,” Wednesday, July 21, 2021, 08:00 Central Daylight Time (CDT)

Portrait of Tregg Cronin, speaker at a Northern Crops Institute webinar

Tregg Cronin, Market Analyst, Halo Commodities, and contributing analyst to DTN/Progressive Farmer.

Tregg Cronin is a fourth-generation farmer and rancher from Gettysburg, S.D., as well as a contributing analyst to DTN/Progressive Farmer. Tregg graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN in 2009 before working for agriculture cooperative CHS, Inc. With CHS, Tregg worked in the company’s grain marketing division as well as its commodity brokerage, CHS Hedging. Currently Tregg is a Contributing Analyst to DTN/Progressive Farmer. Tregg farms with his wife Sara and son Morgan as well as his father, uncles and cousins in what is truly a family farming operation.

Click here to register.

“2021 Hard Spring and Durum Wheat Tour Featuring Dave Green,” Thursday, July 29, 2021, 14:30 CDT

Portrait of Dave Green, Wheat Quality Council, speaker at a Northern Crops Institute webinar

Dave Green, Executive Director, Wheat Quality Council.

The Wheat Quality Council Hard Spring and Durum Wheat Tour will wrap up early the afternoon of July 29. This webinar will give the post survey results and give people a view of the situation on the ground as Northern Plains farmers deal with a devastating drought. Dave Green from the Wheat Quality Council will be with us to discuss the 2021 Hard Spring and Durum Wheat Tour. His presentation will include a review of the tour, what was viewed on the tour, estimated yield potential, and more.

Click here to register.

“Challenges and Opportunities in Global Agricultural Trade and Competition Featuring Dr. William W. Wilson,” Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, 08:00 CDT.

Portrait of Dr. William Wilson, Professor, Agribusiness and Applied Economics, NDSU, speaker at Northern Crops Institute webinar.

Dr. William Wilson, Professor, Agribusiness and Applied Economics, NDSU.

Dr. Wilson is a distinguished Professor, Agribusiness and Applied Economics, at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Dr. Wilson has spent his career working with the global grain trade on everything from global futures, cash, and derivative markets, transportation, logistics, technology, and biotech. He was recently selected by NDSU to present the 60th annual faculty lectureship which is one of NDSU’s oldest and most prestigious awards. It recognizes sustained professional excellence in teaching, scholarly achievement and service among current faculty at NDSU. The honor is conferred on an individual who has demonstrated excellence in all three areas. The title of Dr. Wilson’s lecture is: “Challenges and Opportunities in Global Agricultural Trade and Competition” which includes a lifetime of research, thoughts, and observations. Dr. Wilson was instrumental in developing NCI’s procurement course that has benefitted so many U.S. wheat customers around the world.

Click here to register.

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The IGP Institute serves Kansas and U.S. agriculture through its global education center housed in the Grain Science Complex on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan. Its mission is to provide technical, research-based training benefiting industry professionals globally and enhancing the market preference for U.S. grains and oilseeds. The emphasis is on educational and technical programs supporting promotion and export market development efforts.

From Feb. 25 to 27, 2020, four colleagues from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) participated in an IGP short course on flour milling for wheat commissioners (farmers and grain trade representatives who serve on the boards of state wheat commissions) and staff.  IGP tries to hold this course annually to educate members of the U.S. wheat industry in the basic principles of flour milling through classroom lecture and hands-on practical training in the Kansas State University milling and baking laboratories and the Hal Ross Flour Mill.

Here is an inside look at this fun and very enlightening course that has built, and will continue to build, greater empathy for and connections with overseas flour milling and wheat food processors among U.S. wheat farmers and grain traders.

Participants in the 2020 milling short course were (left to right around the table): Mark Fowler, Vice President of Global Technical Services, USW , and co-instructor; Amanda Hoey, Chief Executive Officer, Oregon Wheat Commission, Portland, Ore.; Nathan Larson, a wheat farmer and Kansas Wheat Commissioner, Manhattan, Kan., ; Lance Adams, Merchandising Manager, Team Marketing Alliance, Moundridge, Kan.; Steve Mercer, Vice President of Communications, USW; Jason Middleton, Oregon Wheat Commissioner and PNW Regional Manager, United Grain Corp., Umatilla, Ore.; Dana Tuckness, a wheat farmer and Oregon Wheat Commissioner, Ontario, Ore.; Shelby Knisley, Director of Policy, USW; Scott Yates, Director of Communications and Membership, Washington Grain Commission, Spokane, Wash.; Claire Hutchins, Market Analyst, USW; Brian Cochrane, a wheat farmer and Washington Grain Commissioner, Kahlotus, Wash.; Aaron Harries, Vice President of Research and Operations, Kansas Wheat, Manhattan, Kan.; Shawn Thiele, Interim Associate Director/Flour Milling and Grain Processing Curriculum Manager, IGP Institute, and co-instructor.

 

 

Mark Fowler counsels his colleagues Shelbi Knisley and Claire Hutchins on adjusting laboratory mills in K-State’s Shellenberger Hall in a section of the course demonstrating basic milling processes. Hutchins is adjusting the break roll gap on the lab mill.

 

Measuring and adjusting “Break Release” to balance the milling system is a basic skill for flour millers. Here in the Hal Ross Flour Mill, Shawn Thiele explains how weighing stock from 1st break rolls, sifting and comparing the weight of the resulting flour (“through material”) measures the percentage of break stock released.

 

Comparing particle size and color of “through” material from the break, purification and reduction systems clearly show the fine-tuned effort at each step in the milling process to extract as much usable flour as possible from cleaned and tempered wheat stock.

 

Participants in the short course learned about the wide range of flour qualities and byproducts produced in the milling process. This sample table was prepared for course participants by students at K-State working toward bachelor’s degrees in milling science and management.

 

One wheat does not fit all. Preparing and baking sugar snap cookies (biscuits), yellow cakes and pan breads using different flour products helped the course participants better understand flour functionality and the crucial wheat quality component for end-product processors around the world. Aaron Clanton, left, Bakers National Education Foundation (BNEF) Instructor at K-State, and several Bakery Science students led the participants through an enjoyable morning in the K-State bakery lab.

 

 

 

 

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is applying Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program funding to hold “Cereal Chemistry Seminars” in 2020 for the milling industries across several countries that are growing in sophistication to meet expanding demand for wheat foods. 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 have additional information with which to evaluate the high-quality characteristics of U.S. wheat compared to competing supplies.

To provide the knowledge that will help these managers fully understand the end-use value of U.S. wheat supplies, USW has developed a comprehensive seminar that will be conducted over the next two years in several markets. One of the topics to be covered in the seminars is Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) analysis of flour (photo above Copyright © Chopin Technologies).

USW believes that the evidence is strong supporting SRC as the most effective method for evaluating the true performance characteristics in flour for biscuits (cookies), crackers and cakes, as well as many hard wheat flour applications, is testing for. The SRC Method was created by scientists to identity the important components of wheat flour that affect end-product cost and productivity for cookie and cracker manufacturing. SRC testing reveals that U.S. wheat has strong “character.” In other words, it functions effectively and produces desirable end-products without heavy additive manipulation.

In a brief video, Bongil (Bon) Lee, operations manager with the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore., describes the basic functions of SRC flour analysis. Click here to view the video.

USW anticipates that after the seminars, participants will have enhanced skills, like being able to use SRC analysis, 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.

By funding opportunities like Cereal Chemistry Seminars, ATP, an export market development program administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, is helping USW continue to give flour milling and baking managers the information they need to meet demanding consumer needs in their local markets while building a preference for U.S. wheat supplies.

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By Catherine Miller, USW Program and Planning Coordinator

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes customer engagement, supply chain transparency and accessible global market information are the building blocks for robust relationships with U.S. wheat customers.

USW often partners with organizations that offer a variety of short courses related to the global wheat supply chain and processing industries, providing the opportunity for customer engagement and education. These partners include Northern Crops Institute (NCI) at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo, N.D., IGP Institute at Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan, K.S., and Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Oregon.

In 2019, USW sponsored 81 participants from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe at eight short courses and four workshops at IGP, NCI and WMC.

USW Market Analyst with NCI’s Brian Sorenson during the 2019 Grain Procurement short course. Read more about this course here: https://bit.ly/2kGGM7a 

In addition, USW staff and consulting experts who may be associated with the educational partner organizations, conduct such courses or workshops. Funding for the educational service is provided primarily by export market development programs directed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Wherever they are held, these courses are focused on helping customers better understand the U.S. grain marketing system from farm to port, U.S. wheat classes and risk management needed to ensure future purchases provide the best value. With the different courses offered, USW can serve participants from such diverse backgrounds as millers, bakers, end-product manufacturers and buyers.

A core educational program that USW offers is the “Contracting for Value Workshop.” It is designed to help customers gain greater knowledge of supply chain management challenges and opportunities to write tenders for U.S. wheat that will yield the greatest return on their investment.

While this workshop is typically hosted at one of the U.S. educational organizations, this year USW’s team in the Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Region decided to hold workshops in Mexico City and Chihuahua, Mexico. Agricultural Economics Professor Frayne Olson of North Dakota State University, who supports short courses held at NCI, joined USW staff to conduct the workshops in October 2019.

USW Vice President Steve Wirsching presenting in Chihuahua, Mexico

“By doing the workshops in-country, USW staff and consultants could meet with the entire management teams at two different mills in a week,” said Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Assistant Regional Director. “Having the general managers and owners as well as the production, storage, quality and purchasing staff all together was invaluable because while they were learning about U.S. wheat quality, we also could see consensus being built on the specifications as the teams identified the wheat characteristics that had the most value for them.”

This commitment to customer service before and after U.S. wheat is imported is one of the unique legacies represented by USW’s partnership with farmers, the U.S. government, state wheat commissions and our educational partner organizations.

Header Photo Caption: Contracting for Value Workshop in Chihuahua, Mexico

2019 Contracting for Wheat Value team from China in Montana.

NCI Pasta Production and Tech Course

Philippine-Korean Bakery Workshop at the Wheat Marketing Center.

 

2019 Grain Purchasing short course at the IGP Institute.

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By Michael Anderson, USW Assistant Director, West Coast Office

Reading the directions on the back of a cake mix box and adding the ingredients step by step may seem simple enough but it is no easy feat to ensure the consumer ends up with a consistent cake from box to box. How do baked good brands stay the same store to store, how does a cake get its perfect lofted middle, how do crackers keep their shape? The answer is simple: from science. Yet the means of getting there is anything but simple.

Two familiar names leading the discussion on U.S. wheat quality characteristics and versatility through education and training are Dr. Jayne Bock, Technical Director, and Dr. Lingzhu Deng, Food Scientist, of the Wheat Marketing Center, Portland, Oregon.

Dr. Jayne Bock, Technical Director, Wheat Marketing Center

Both Dr. Bock and Dr. Deng have food science backgrounds and roots in farming. Dr. Bock grew up in Kansas where her family had a wheat farm and Dr. Deng grew up helping her uncles on their rice farm in Southern China. Deng said that the poor growing practices in the area inspired her to find a better way which as an accomplished cereal scientist, she has.

Dr. Lingzhu Deng, Food Scientist, Wheat Marketing Center

These scientists say they enjoy research and academia, which is key to a job tasked with improving end-product quality. Their role at the Wheat Marketing Center is to improve the understanding of wheat functionality and end use characteristics. They assist overseas customers with hands-on opportunities, allowing visiting technical teams to objectively judge the quality and functionality of a given product.

Many markets that purchase U.S. wheat are well developed with a sophisticated knowledge of what characteristics they are looking for. Those customers however, may be interested in new food trends and the ingredients needed to produce them. Technicians from markets where demand for wheat foods is still less developed may not be as aware of the importance of functionality as it relates to end-product quality or cost. Bock and Deng are eager to help customers develop the answers they seek.

Many experienced bakers know that quality products start with quality flour. Flour from a strong, extensible hard wheat is great for bread, but a mellower soft wheat makes the best cake flour. High ash content may make good bread products, but you do not want it in your cake. Selecting the right flour ingredient is complicated, so it makes sense that it takes highly trained PhDs to help build the practical knowledge needed for any type of product.

As wheat food demand sets new records across the globe almost every year, businesses look for ways to make more products that are attractive to more consumer market segments. Automation has become an increasingly important component of the baking industry and, as bakers try to keep up with and expand demand for their products, knowledge of wheat quality characteristics and consistency becomes more important.

Dr. Jayne Bock discussing wheat quality and sustainable production at the 2019 USW World Staff Conference.

There is a lot of thought that goes into something that seems as simple as a cake or a pizza. At the Wheat Marketing Center, it takes two PhDs plus a successful support staff to help keep the wheat flour and foods industry advancing and help U.S. wheat customers around the world develop a more sophisticated understanding of ingredients and processing. It is an understanding that Dr. Bock and Dr. Deng are eager to share.

Dr. Lingzhu Deng is a Food Scientist at the Wheat Marketing Center.

For more information about how the Wheat Marketing Center provides training opportunities and product development assistance, visit its website at https://www.wmcinc.org/. In addition, you can read a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) profile of the Wheat Marketing Center online at https://bit.ly/2MPSOYw.