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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.

Wheat food products to illustrate Wheat Industry News

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is supported by a highly successful public-private partnership that includes 17 state wheat commissions. Wheat producers contribute a portion of their wheat sales (either by bushel or by production value and known as a “checkoff” program) to their state wheat commission and contribute a portion of the checkoff to join USW. On average, U.S. wheat farmers contribute about one third of a penny per bushel ($0.0032) to USW. In return, USW’s works closely with its state wheat commission members to carry out its mission “to develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.”

On the state level, these commissions invest funds in various educational projects and ongoing communications efforts to support wheat farmers and engage with consumers, domestically and overseas. We thank USW state commission members’ commitment to building demand for U.S. wheat and highlight some of their activities and resources here.

  • Find more information about the Arizona Grain Research & Promotion Council’s news and activities here.

 

 

  • The Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee posts weekly crop progress reports on its website and other news and activities on Facebook and Twitter.

 

  • By using the registered tagline ‘Quality wheat simply grown’ and a new, more modern logo, Idaho wheat farmers are connecting on a more personal level with consumers who want to know their food is grown naturally on family farms. Visit the Idaho Wheat website here and follow its news and activities on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Oklahoma Wheat Commission recently partnered with the Oklahoma State University Food & Agricultural Products Center for a day-long event called All You Knead to Know – An Artisan and Grain Workshop. The new, annual event walked participants through the journey wheat goes on from field to fork. Read more about this event here and stay up to date with the commission’s other news and activities on Facebook.

 

  • The Oregon Wheat Commission is showcasing wheat growers and Oregon State University (OSU) researchers through videos to help connect consumers to agriculture. The first video features Dr. Hagerty from the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center (CBARC) in Pendleton, Ore. View the video here and follow along with the commission’s other new and activities on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

  • The “Wheat All About It” weekly podcast, hosted by the Washington Grain Commission, features guests from all over the U.S. wheat industry discussing important current issues. Listen to the podcast here. The commission also shares its news and activities on Facebook and Twitter.

 

  • Find more information about the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission’s news and activities here.
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The Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) recently announced the selection of Dr. Jayne Bock as its new Technical Director. Starting in late October, Dr. Bock will lead WMC’s research and technical training efforts focused on demonstrating the value of U.S. wheat produced across the country.

WMC Managing Director Janice Cooper said, “Dr. Bock was selected after a lengthy international search. She possesses an excellent set of research skills, technical expertise and communication abilities that will help move WMC programs in new and exciting directions.” Cooper is particularly pleased that Bock has a depth of experience with soft wheat quality and end products, including crackers and biscuits.

Bock is an experience research leader with a specialty in grain and flour quality. Bock earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science at Kansas State University and her Ph.D. in Food Science at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She spent several years at the University of Guelph as an Adjunct Professor and, more recently, as Global Technical Leader with Brabender Instruments, as well as a consultant with Chopin Technologies. Bock is also active in wheat industry associations, including AACCI, and has co-authored an impressive list of refereed publications.

“I enjoy the challenge of communicating complicated technical issues to diverse audiences and am very excited to be joining the WMC team,” said Bock.

WMC Board Chairperson Bill Flory, an Idaho wheat grower, looks forward to welcoming Bock at the WMC board meeting Oct. 18 in Portland, Ore. “WMC’s technical expertise in research and product development is highly respected around the world. Dr. Bock’s background and experience are an excellent fit to help WMC meet the evolving challenges of our customers and wheat producers,” said Flory. “Jayne will be a great addition to our existing group of dedicated professionals.”

Created in 1988, WMC is technical crossroads of the wheat world linking wheat producers, consumers, millers and end product manufacturers. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works with this educational partner to identify U.S. wheat market needs and provides technical training courses for customers. The two organizations also work together every year to provide crop quality analysis and data for soft white (SW) and hard white (HW) wheat. Read more about this partnership here.

Everyone at USW wishes Dr. Bock the best of luck in this new position and are looking forward to working with her.

For more information about the Wheat Marketing Center visit www.wmcinc.org.

Dr. Jayne Bock

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By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Assistant Director of Communications

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 AIB International (AIB) in Manhattan, Kan.

AIB was founded in 1919 as a technology and information center for bakers and food processors. Its mission is to empower the global food industry to elevate their food safety and grain-based production capabilities. AIB’s staff includes experts in baking production, experimental baking, cereal science, nutrition, food safety and hygiene. While most of its training occurs at its United States headquarters office, both AIB’s physical and virtual overseas offices are involved in coordinating its food safety services as well as public and private training on location.

“AIB has evolved as a company, but that educational piece of our mission has remained at the core of everything we do,” said Brian Strouts, AIB Vice President of Baking and Food Technical Services.

In 2018, USW is sponsoring participants from Japan, China and Hong Kong at AIB courses focused on variety breads and rolls, and baking science and technology. USW Technical Specialist Dr. Ting Liu recently completed the Baking Science and Technology Resident Course, an intensive, 16-week residency held twice a year that combines science, hands-on lab work and baking tradition. Liu shares her first-hand experience at the course in the story (The AIB Baking Science and Technology Course: A Pathway to Success) below.

Participants learn how key ingredients function and interact in baked products, which processes are critical to finished products, sound manufacturing practices and how to manage the production process. The course is accredited by the Kansas Board of Regents, so participants who pass it also receive 60 IACET (International Association for Continuing Education and Training) continuing education units.

“This course is the capstone of our baking training programs and holds quite a bit of weight in the industry because of its historical significance,” said Strouts. “This most recent class to graduate was class 192, and the true value of this certificate is the knowledge of the students who came before them in classes 1 through 191, and what that experience means to them individually and to their organizations.”

AIB also offers an extensive database of online resources, webinars and guides, both free and for purchase. This includes several resources focused on helping bakeries address key elements of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act.

USW recognizes the value of sending both its own staff and U.S. wheat customers to AIB for training. Strouts explained that the key component of AIB’s relationship with USW is the international perspective from the participants that USW sponsors.

“Our courses — especially one as long at the Baking Science and Technology Course — is an immersion of its participants, their cultures and individual experiences,” said Strouts. “That value is intangible.”

Learn more about AIB and its programming and services at www.aibonline.org.

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By Dr. Ting Liu, Technical Specialist, USW Beijing Office

Before attending the Baking Science and Technology (BST) course at AIB International, I was told by a former BST graduate that it would be an intensive, demanding, and competitive course. The course curriculum guide advised us to expect “a minimum of eight hours in class/laboratory and two to four hours preparing homework each day.” So even before the start of the coursework, I realized that the BST course was no piece of cake. But only later did I fully realize the abundant and comprehensive baking knowledge that is included in this course.

The majority of attendees were from industrial bakeries, including Grupo Bimbo and Yamazaki Baking Co., Ltd, and the remaining were from the baking industry, including flour mills, machine manufacturers, educational programs and market development organizations. Attendees from the United States, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, China, Philippines, India and Uganda not only shared their different cultures, but also their diverse production experience. The instructors created a great learning atmosphere, helping participants with their studies and coping with the new environment. Without support and encouragement from instructors and fellow classmates, one may not successfully finish the course.

The content consists of six major components: Baking Science, Bread and Roll Production, Cake and Sweet Goods, Operations, Food Safety and Bakers Math. The curriculum emphasizes the fundamentals of baking science, formulations and procedures, but also approaches to solving commercial industrial-scale production problems.

As expected, AIB is fully equipped, representing the state of the art equipment and tools used in current production. The instructors are very knowledgeable, experienced and patient in lecturing and answering students’ questions. The curriculum design is very clear and the instructors have clear divisions in their coursework.

Naturally the coursework focuses on extracting the highest value possible from U.S. wheat flour. The milling and flour science curriculum helped students to further understand the characteristics of U.S. wheat and flour, the flour milling process, testing methods and how to adjust formulas and processes according to flour specifications. This directly benefits U.S. wheat growers by promoting their wheat to customers in international markets.

I gained many useful skills and knowledge from the BST course. The baking fundamentals on ingredients, formulas and processes further increased my knowledge and laid the foundation for answering customers’ technical questions about using U.S. wheat. Large-scale production experiments and the operation component deepened my understanding of actual production, making me feel more confident to provide on-site technical service. Moreover, the introduction of global bakery trends enabled me to learn about other countries and promote these trends in China — hopefully to contribute to the development of the Chinese bakery industry.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has a long-standing partnership with AIB and frequently sends attendees to the BST course, and assists in the application and accommodations for attendees from U.S. wheat importing countries. This cooperation is a win-win strategy for all involved. International attendees will bring what they learned at AIB back to their countries and contribute to the development of the baking industry there. The course is beneficial for U.S. wheat producers by demonstrating the high quality of U.S. wheat. USW helps spread baking culture, and promotes AIB to potential participants. All the while, AIB instructors can also learn from students about baking practices in different countries. Only by sharing knowledge can we promote the progress of all parties.

Ting Liu

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By Jeff Coey, USW Regional Vice President, Hong Kong

The Baking Science and Technology course at AIB International in Manhattan, KS, is an intensive, 16-week program combining science, hands-on lab work and baking tradition. It is the “gold standard” for baker training and is well attended by aspiring, industrial scale bakers from around the world.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has helped many bakers participate in this and other AIB International courses over the years. This year, however, USW invested some of its activity funding to send USW Technical Specialist Dr. Ting Liu from our Beijing, China, office to the course. With her doctorate in food science and experience in cereal chemistry, we knew she would do well — but she far exceeded our expectations.

We are so happy and proud to report that Ting represented herself and USW with distinction, earning top student honors and an “Excellence in Laboratory Leadership” award for her participation in the course!

The context for Ting’s achievement at AIB is the changing nature of wheat food in China. Traditional Chinese wheat foods have been successfully made for thousands of years using local wheat. However, demand today is sharply skewing toward non-traditional baked goods like chewy breads and fluffy cakes, products that rely on the functionality of higher and lower strength gluten flours that are best made with the classes of U.S. wheat specifically bred for those purposes.

There is intense interest in professional baking expertise, especially in the scaling up of industrial sized operations in China. USW intends to help channel that interest in ways that work for U.S. wheat, whether through Ting’s work, our consulting experts or through our long, respected collaboration with the Sino-American Baking School in Guangzhou.

Ting brings the unique set of tools needed to enhance our customers’ effective processing of U.S. wheat flour and how its functional attributes perform for the baker. Now, after succeeding so well in AIB International’s prestigious Baking Science and Technology course, she will be better prepared to lead such services and, in concert with our milling experts, to troubleshoot and solve customer problems as they come up.

So, we say congratulations to Ting and, along with our other talented colleagues, we look forward to much more success representing U.S. wheat farmers in the challenging but growing Chinese market.

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Everyone at USW is looking forward to working with Mark Jirik who was recently selected as the next director at the Northern Crops Institute (NCI), Fargo, N.D.

NCI is a respected educational partner with USW that supports regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain markets for northern-grown crops. After working closely with Mark Weber over the six years he led NCI, USW was sad to learn that he planned to retire at the end of 2017. With Mark Jirik’s background, NCI should not miss a beat in the transition.

“We are confident that Mark is the right choice to lead NCI,” said Northern Crops Council Chairman Greg Kessel, a producer from Belfield, N.D.

Jirik has more than 17 years of experience in commodity merchandising and commercial management at Cargill. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University and a master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

We wish Mark Jirik the best of luck in this new position, and we also wish Mark Weber a very long and happy retirement.

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By Erica Oakley, USW Program Manager

Every year, USW collaborates with educational organizations to offer training that fits the needs of overseas customers. From grain purchasing to milling and end-product development, these courses are created to provide information and training that is beneficial to U.S. wheat buyers and their customers.  This year, approximately 70 USW customers from more than 15 countries will travel to the United States to participate in 11 short courses at our partner institutions.

Wheat Marketing Center. This week, the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, OR, is hosting a USW-sponsored Korean team taking part in an Asian noodle development course aimed at evaluating noodles made from various blends of U.S. wheat. The course includes testing a whole-wheat noodle made with soft white (SW) wheat flour.

“Last year, a Korean development team found that noodles with more than 30 percent whole wheat flour from hard red winter wheat did not have the texture, color and flavor that Korean consumers desire,” said Janice Cooper, WMC Managing Director. “In discussions with WMC Technical Director Dr. Gary Hou, the soft white option came up and Dr. Hou developed a research proposal, which was funded by the Idaho Wheat Commission. This year’s Korean team will help test the validity of that concept.”

The WMC provides key programs including technical training, product development and research on end-product quality to help solve customers’ issues and expand the demand for U.S. wheat around the world.

Northern Crops Institute. As in years past, customers from several USW regions will attend a Grain Procurement Management for Importers course at Northern Crops Institute (NCI) in Fargo, ND, this summer. Along with USW participants from Europe and Latin America, the Philippines, one of USW’s largest customers, will be represented by four rising managers and top executives.

“Many of these managers have significant experience and have been active in the industry for some time but are attending the NCI course to refine their knowledge base and increase their skills,” said Joe Sowers, USW Assistant Regional Vice President based in Manila. “They will observe state of the art grain trading software and technologies in the North Dakota State University Commodity Trading Lab. Through the course, they hope to improve their contract specifications and price risk management practices.”

Millers in the Philippines purchase more hard red spring (HRS) and SW wheat than any country. The NCI course includes local farm visits so participants can see HRS production practices first hand. After the course, the Philippine participants will continue to the heart of SW country in eastern Washington state to meet farmers, visit wheat variety breeding facilities, and observe inland logistics infrastructure that has more than doubled in size in the last decade.

International Grains Program. At the International Grains Program (IGP) in Manhattan, KS, a team from Nigeria and South Africa will participate in a customized flour millers short course in June. For both Nigerian and South African senior personnel, “the course offers a refresher on the basics of milling and an enhanced understanding of new milling equipment, techniques and concepts,” said Gerald Theus, USW Assistant Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa based in Cape Town, South Africa. “Whereas for junior level milling managers and technicians, the in-depth exposure to various USW classes is a great tool for determining end-use applications and enhancing performance at work.”

A customized course like this provides the opportunity to identify and address issues that are unique to Nigeria and South Africa, which keeps those customers returning year after year.

California Wheat Lab. The California Wheat Quality Laboratory, housed within the California Wheat Commission (CWC) in Woodland, CA, is unique in that it also has an on-site milling and baking laboratory. Through the lab, CWC provides hands-on training to customers and conducts quality testing, chemical analysis and end-product testing.

“The CWC Lab has developed a relationship with overseas buyers, particularly those from Latin America, as they trust our results and seek our input,” said Executive Director Claudia Carter. “The CWC Lab provides guidance about wheat quality related issues and the overseas customers that utilize the lab tend to be those that seek high quality wheat.”

In addition to providing services to overseas customers, the CWC Lab analyzes samples of hard red winter (HRW) wheat and Desert Durum® for USW’s annual Crop Quality Report.

These are just a few examples of the technical support provided by our U.S. educational partners and the value they add to USW’s ability to help meet our customers’ needs. These partnerships will remain a crucial part of USW’s service to our customers overseas on behalf of the U.S. wheat farmers and USDA Foreign Agricultural Service export market development programming that fund such activities.