U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Chairman Michael Peters and USW Board Member Dana Tuckness discovered there was plenty of interest in what they had to say during the annual Assembly of the Latin American Association of Miller Industrialists (ALIM), held Oct. 29 – Nov. 1 in Cordoba, Argentina.

“When someone learned we were U.S. wheat farmers, they were really eager to hear about our farming operations and, of course, about our crop,” said Tuckness, an Oregon producer who was attending his second consecutive ALIM. “It was nice to meet some new people in the industry and also reconnect with people I had met last year, when the event was in Peru. The connections made during these meetings is an important part of doing business.”

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier presents at the 2023 ALIM meeting in Cordoba, Argentina.

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier presents at the 2023 ALIM meeting in Cordoba, Argentina.

An Effective Platform

Nearly 600 wheat buyers from the region were in attendance in Argentina, and the meeting once again served as an effective and efficient platform for U.S. wheat industry representatives to engage with key contacts.

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier presented as part of a solid lineup of speakers and informational sessions. Staff from USW offices in Santiago and Mexico City also participated, meeting with existing customers and potential customers of U.S. wheat.

“The important thing about ALIM is that it provides a valuable opportunity to connect with our regional wheat buyers,” said USW Regional Director Miguel Galdos. “The topics that fill up the program are of great interest to U.S. wheat and to the broader milling industry. The presentations this year were focused on visions for the future of the regional milling industry – looking at factors such as economics, politics, and commercial trends, and how they impact the Latin American region.”

‘What’s Coming Next’

Peters, an Oklahoma farmer, described ALIM as a “chance to learn about what’s coming next” in the world of flour milling, as least as it applies to Latin America.

“Like everywhere else in the world, there are challenges, including some economic challenges in some countries,” Peters said. “But there are also growing opportunities for U.S. wheat, so it was nice to listen and learn about what’s happening today and the future plans of millers and bakers.”

Nearly 600 wheat buyers attended this year's ALIM event. USW staff from Portland, Mexico City and Santiago took the opportunity to meet with customers and potential customers of U.S. wheat.

Nearly 600 wheat buyers attended this year’s ALIM event. USW staff from Portland, Mexico City and Santiago took the opportunity to meet with customers and potential customers of U.S. wheat.

Future Wheat Foods

The development of new wheat foods – along with new methods of making wheat foods – were part of the discussion.

“As a soft white wheat producer, I was naturally interested in anything involving the class I grow,” said Tuckness, who noted that hard red winter (HRW)soft red winter (SRW) and durum wheat continue to draw interest in the region.. “There was a lot of talk about blending of classes, and the millers seem to have a lot of interest in that, because bakers in Latin America are looking at new breads and new ways to make bread.”



Exploring opportunities for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW) and durum wheat in both established and emerging markets, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) led a team of wheat producers and industry representatives to meet with customers and learn about milling and baking processes in Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia.

USW’s Latin America Board Team included Chet Creel of Texas, Michael Edgar of Arizona, and Keith Kennedy of Wyoming.

“We had a really good group with diverse interests that visited some very important markets to see how millers and bakers use the quality wheat produced back home – and why the quality is important to them,” said USW Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman, who led the team on the 10-day mission. “The goal of these Board Teams is to provide a broad canvas of a region, on-the-ground, face-to-face experiences in the mills, in the bakeries, and at the transportation facilities that support movement of U.S. wheat into the countries.”

USW's Latin America Board Team poses for a photo in front of a Grupo Trimex Facility in Mexico following a tour and discussions about U.S. wheat

USW’s Latin America Board Team poses for a photo with USW staff and milling staff in front of a Grupo Trimex facility in Mexico following a tour and discussions about U.S. wheat.

Mexico: U.S. Wheat’s Top Customer

Stops in Mexico included Guadalajara and Mexico City. Outside of Guadalajara, the team visited the Grupo Kasto mill, shuttle train and elevator facility that receives direct rail shipments of U.S. wheat. shuttle train and elevator facility that receives direct rail shipments of U.S. wheat. From there, the team traveled to the Guadalupe Flour Mill to meet with owners of the mill. The Guadalajara portion of the trip also included a tour of the OhLaLa! baking facilities.

In Mexico City, team members visited the USW office, where they learned more about Mexico’s milling industry and efforts to promote wheat foods in the country. Visits to Grupo Trimex and Harinera Anahuac flour mills followed, helping the team explore opportunities for U.S. wheat.

“It was clear U.S. Wheat’s staff has a great relationship in Mexico and there is a lot of trust,” said Creel, Vice Chairman of the Texas Wheat Producers Board and a HRW wheat producer. “We were able to see how activities like technical servicing and educational courses have helped the Mexican milling businesses. We also saw the value of the relationships the representatives in Mexico been built and maintained over the years.”

Ecuador and Colombia: Markets With Great Potential

After Mexico, the team moved on to Ecuador, where it met up with USW representatives serving South America from an office in Santiago, Chile. In Quito, Ecuador, the team visited flour mills and a cookie factory before moving on to Cali, Colombia, for a mill visit. The next day, in Bogota, the team toured a bakery and a pasta plant that uses U.S. durum wheat.

The USW Board Team during a tour of Grupo Superior in Ecuador.

The USW Board Team during a tour of Grupo Superior in Ecuador.

“We had some very good interactions at each stop and had some chances to discuss opportunities for U.S. wheat as a whole,” said Edgar, a USW Board Member and member of the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council. “For me, a durum grower, it was valuable to specifically see where my class of wheat stands and the places where it could carve out a bigger share.”

While Mexico is the top customer of U.S. wheat, both Ecuador and Colombia have great potential to increase imports.

“We were able to meet with some companies that really prefer the quality that they’ve seen in U.S. wheat and want to continue to buy,” said Kennedy, Executive Director of the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission. “They have definitely seen some pricing pressures, and the competition is there, but customers in both Ecuador and Colombia were very clear that the quality of the U.S. crop is second to none.”

Developing Customers

Laudeman noted that Colombia and Ecuador have a huge amount of room for per capita wheat consumption growth.

“We are looking toward the mid- to long-term opportunities to be able to sell more wheat and boost wheat foods as part of the diets in each country,” said Laudeman, who added that the team noticed interest in soft red winter (SRW) wheat in Ecuador. “As we see bigger crops and healthier crops in the future, it is going to be an easy decision for them to continue to buy U.S. wheat. Meanwhile, we will continue to work on any policy challenges that might be barriers to our market access in these countries. We will certainly keep monitoring and make sure that we can keep the policy landscape healthy. We will also continue to explore opportunities for U.S. wheat.”




The first U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Latin American and Caribbean Wheat Buyers’ Conference since 2018 was a major success, with more than 150 buyers, traders and logistics professionals coming together in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to meet representatives of the U.S. wheat industry – including a handful of producers. In the short video below, customers from across the region express their appreciation for the opportunity to learn about the 2023 U.S. wheat crop and discuss the U.S. wheat supply chain. . .




On June 15, a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representative had the opportunity to visit the World Food Prize Foundation’s “Hall of Laureates” in Des Moines, Iowa. As part of an organization working on behalf of wheat farmers, this was a time to reflect on the amazing international food legacy of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug.

In 16 years of work in Sonora, Mexico, to solve a series of wheat production challenges, Dr. Borlaug developed successive generations of wheat varieties with disease resistance, adaptation to many growing regions, and high yield potential. Combined with his later, collaborative efforts in India and Africa, Dr. Borlaug can be said to have “saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived.” For this work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Great Agricultural Scientists

Dr. Borlaug went on to create the annual World Food Prize in 1986 to “honor the work of great agricultural scientists to end hunger and improve the food supply.” This concept expanded to include the annual Borlaug Dialogue and the Global Youth Institute.

This vital mission to “elevate innovations and inspire action to sustainably increase the quality, quantity and availability of food for all” and the World Food Prize has a permanent home in a beautifully restored Beaux-Arts building in downtown Des Moines that originally served as the city’s public library.

USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer toured the Hall of Laureates and shared some photos that illustrate why this remarkable center is a fitting tribute to Dr. Borlaug, World Food Prize recipients – and wheat, with which Dr. Borlaug did so much research and development.

A Moral Right

The photo at the top of this page shows a portion of the Hall’s grand entrance, where guests are greeted by quotes around the Rotunda that establish the meaning and purpose of the World Food Prize. The quote shown upholds Dr. Borlaug’s fundamental value: “Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world.” The stained-glass window above the staircase depicts a family in the Hellenistic Period bringing in the grain harvest.

Image of a sculpture depicting a wheat plant at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, Iowa.

The wheat plant represented in this metal sculpture is one of four that, with rice, corn and soy, depict staple food crops. The sculptures are labeled in English and the native language of the region where each crop was first cultivated. Wheat is identified by its ancient Sumerian cuneiform symbol.


This image shows a sculpture titled "First Farmer" representing a Sumarian woman seeding or harvesting ancient grain.

“The First Farmer” sculpture represents an early Sumerian female with a digging stick, the first implement used to till the ground, with a basket for seeds or harvest.


This image shows a plaque at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates commemorating a visit to the Hall by Xi Jinping, now President of the People's Republic of China.

In 2012, then Vice President of China Xi Jinping, who had spent time in Iowa in 1985 on an agricultural research mission, addressed a ceremony at the Hall when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and China’s Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu signed a U.S.-China Strategic Cooperation Agreement.


This image is a plaque honoring World Food Prize laureate and wheat breeder Dr. Sanjay Rajaram who worked with Dr. Borlaug at CYMMIT in Mexico.

Wheat breeder Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram received the 2014 World Food Prize, the 100th anniversary of Dr. Borlaug’s birth in Iowa.  for developing 480 high-yielding and disease-resistant wheat varieties grown on more than 58 million hectares in 51 countries. As Dr. Borlaug’s successor at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, the late Dr. Rajaram is the only wheat breeder who has received the World Food Prize.

A visit to this impressive place is highly recommended. To read more about Dr. Borlaug’s life and work, USW recommends this resource from the University of Minnesota: “The Significance of Borlaug.”


As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson often says, at any given hour of the day someone, somewhere, is talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. Wheat Letter wants to share just some of the ways USW has been working recently to build a preference for U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world wheat market.

Lauding Nutritious, Delicious U.S. Baking Ingredients in China

USW Beijing participated in the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) “Discover U.S. Baking Ingredients and Trends” hybrid virtual promotion in August 2022 (activity banner in the photo above). The purpose of this activity was to raise Chinese bakers’ awareness of the nutrition, health benefits, taste, and versatility of U.S. baking ingredients. The FAS Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Beijing and 10 USDA Cooperators with products ranging from wheat, dried fruit and nuts to dairy sponsored the activity partnering with the China Association of Bakery and Confectionery Industry.

USW Beijing staff with ATO Beijing at a U.S. Baking Ingredients event.

In-store promotion product 2 using U.S. dried blueberry and California almond slices and U.S. wheat flour

In-store promotion products using U.S. dried blueberry and California almond slices and U.S. wheat flour.

ATO Beijing reported the activity reached an audience of over 2.5 million netizens in China through social media platforms and

over 200,000 real-time viewers through livestreaming. There was also in-store promotions at leading bakery houses in Beijing where “consumers warmly welcomed the new products featuring U.S. baking ingredients,” ATO Beijing reported. Additionally, ATO Beijing strengthened connections with baking associations and businesses and generated trade leads with this activity. Read more here.

USW Beijing Technical Specialist Ting Liu and Marketing Specialist Kaiwen Wu played direct roles representing the essential quality of flour from U.S. wheat in the events. In the three full marketing years since the trade war ended, China has imported a total of more than 168 million bushels (4.58 million metric tons) of U.S. hard red winter (HRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and soft red winter (SRW) wheat, and have already imported almost 23 million bushels of U.S. wheat in the current marketing year that ends May 31, 2023.

Helping a Mexican Baker Expand Sales

In a technical support activity demonstrating to Mexican bakers how to extend their product lines using U.S. wheat flour, USW Mexico City enlisted Baking

U.S. Wheat consultant Didier Rosada

Didier Rosada

Consultant Didier Rosada to conduct an in-depth, multi-day workshop for one of the top three baking groups in Mexico. The commercial baker selected their best 25 master bakers to learn how to produce internationally recognized sourdough, functional breads, and savory breads for retail bakery sales. Rosada also demonstrated how to standardize pre-fermentation and natural sourdough processes to optimize production efficiency, products consistency, and quality in every store.

Baking is changing in a good way,” Rosada said. “At my bakery, my process is as natural as possible, with long fermentation time, like it used to be done, to bring back the flavor profile of a good bread, its shelf life and texture, etc. And U.S. wheat classes are perfect for that. I am using a flour that is almost 100 percent hard red winter or sometimes combined with hard red spring wheat.”

Mexico is the leading importer of U.S. wheat in the world.

Healthier Wheat Foods for Older Taiwanese Consumers

Chinese wheat foods seminar

Well-known Taiwanese chefs demonstrated healthy Chinese wheat food products .

USW Taipei collaborated with the Department of Food and Beverage Management of Shih Chien University (USC) to conduct workshops on Chinese Wheat Food for the Elderly in October 2022. Chinese wheat foods are popular but a survey by the university indicated that more than 60% of elderly Taiwanese are not satisfied with the healthiness of the products.

USW Taipei Country Director Boyuan Chen and Technologist Wei-lin Chou invited well-known Taiwanese chefs to teach methods for making healthy handmade noodles, pan-fried stuffed buns, silk thread rolls, and pan-fried sweet potato pastry as well as steamed breads using U.S. wheat white flour and whole wheat flour. The 40 participants included teachers, students, and long-term elderly care community volunteers who made pan-fried stuffed buns for the elderly just after the workshop.

U.S. wheat imports by Taiwan have averaged 43.2 million bushels (1.18 million metric tons) of HRS, HRW and SW per year since 2017/18.

Continuing Milling Education Interrupted by COVID in Korea

USW Seoul had started to educate Food Technology undergraduate students at Won Kwang University about the fundamentals of U.S. wheat and flour milling technology in 2018. USW Seoul Food/Bakery Technologist Shin Hak (David) Oh resumed that effort this year. The goal is to give these future industry professionals a better understanding of why flour products from U.S. wheat make superior quality ingredients for Korean wheat foods. The early exposure to U.S. wheat and the value-added technical support from USW also builds future productive relationships.

On average the past five marketing years, South Korean millers have imported about 56.7 million bushels (1.54 million metric tons) of U.S. HRW, HRS, SW and SRW wheat per year.

USW Baking Technogist Shin Hak Oh lecturing to Korean food industry students on U.S. wheat and milling technology

USW Baking Technogist Shin Hak Oh lecturing to Korean food industry students on U.S. wheat and milling technology

U.S. Soft Wheat Best for Cookies, Cakes

USW Cape Town sent six participants from a large South African food company to a specialty soft wheat flour course at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore., earlier in 2022. The course focused on cookies, crackers, and cakes made with flour from SRW and SW compared to flour from local and imported hard wheat that is used in South Africa. The participants also visited local grocery stores to gain insight into the many, varied U.S. products made from soft wheat flours.

USW Cape Town Regional Director Chad Weigand accompanied the food industry professionals to the course. He said participants were very impressed with the course results and comparative product quality, and he expected the company to begin testing products made with U.S. soft wheat flour.

Read more here about the South African wheat market.


U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has made a formal agreement to support the long-term mission of the Latin American Cereals Institute (IL Cereales) to promote the benefits of cereals and wheat foods in a healthy human diet.

IL Cereales, Mexico City, currently reaches Mexican consumers but plans to expand its mission to Central America. Its members represent Mexico’s largest wheat foods associations. USW will share scientifically sound nutritional information, expert consultants and other resources as part of the agreement with IL Cereales. With average annual imports of more than 110 million bushels, Mexico purchases more U.S. wheat every year than any other country.

Shared Goals

“We know the U.S. wheat foods industry shares our goal to help consumers understand that cereals and wheat foods should always be part of a healthy, nutritious diet,” said José Antonio Monroy, Chairman, Latin American Cereals Institute (IL Cereales).

Image from Wheat Foods Council to show the U.S. industry shares goals with IL Cereales

Universal Truth. Through their state wheat commission organizations, U.S. wheat farmers support the Wheat Foods Council with a shared mission with IL Cereales. Image Source.

Chairman Monroy added, “We intend to make the most of this agreement, and we thank U.S. Wheat Associates for their support.”

This agreement was concluded following a recent meeting with IL Cereales and USW in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The USW delegation included Chairman Darren Padget, Secretary-Treasurer Michael Peters, President Vince Peterson, Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier, and Regional Vice President, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean and Venezuela Mitch Skalicky. Representing IL Cereales were Chairman Monroy, Director General Dr. Luis Hernando Cervera, and José Luis Fuente, Executive Director of the Mexican Millers Association (CANIMOLT).

“In August 2022, U.S. Wheat Associates will celebrate 25 years with an office in Mexico,” said Skalicky. “This is the perfect time to work together with IL Cereales to help Latin American families better understand the health and well-being of wheat and cereal foods in their daily diet.”

Shared Responsibility

Noting the successful partnership with the Mexican wheat foods industry, USW President Vince Peterson said it is important to see that partnership from a broader perspective.

“Together, we are responsible for providing a very large proportion of the primary food and nutrition to our citizens and, more broadly, the world’s citizens,” Peterson said. “We share common goals, and we commend Mexico’s wheat food industry leaders for creating IL Cereales. It is a pleasure to be a partner and productive resource in this much-needed work.”

More on IL Cereales

Latin American Cereals Institute (IL Cereales) logoIL Cereales (Instituto Latinoamericano de Cereales) (Latin American Cereals Institute) is the only Institute in Latin America that seeks to promote, generate and disseminate rigorous scientific knowledge on the nutritional value of cereals and their derivatives. Its members represent the Mexican Millers Association (CANIMOLT), the Mexican Bakers Association (CANAINPA), the Mexican Association for Food Ingredients Suppliers for the Baking Industry (ANPROPAN), Grupo Bimbo, and the Mexican Cookie, Cracker and Pasta Manufacturers’ Association (AMEXIGAPA).


By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

When U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) was planning to hold its 2019 Mexico Wheat Trade Conference June 2 to 4, 2019, no one anticipated that the threat of new tariffs on Mexican imports would come just two days before the meeting started.

“What we thought was an unfortunate coincidence turned out to be a fortunate opportunity to address the trade policy concerns face to face with our Mexican customers,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “Talking through the potential concerns that way allowed us to move on to talk about how we can work together to navigate the policy issues and increase the efficiency and value of Mexico’s U.S. wheat purchases. We found that our shared challenges bring us closer together.”

2019 Mexico Wheat Trade Conference Cancún


In the just ended marketing year 2018/19, Mexican flour millers imported more U.S. wheat than any other country. The flour millers that attended the conference in Cancún represented about 80% of the 3.3 million metric tons (MMT) total 2018/19 commercial sales to Mexico reported by USDA as of May 30. USW Chairman Chris Kolstad, a wheat farmer from Ledger, Mont., thanked the millers for this and past business, and assured them that “USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers will do everything in our power to ensure that the USMCA Agreement on Trade is approved.”

Kolstad said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) served both countries well and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will continue to benefit the three countries with increased trade and new economic opportunity. His focus set the stage for insight from other conference speakers into why approval of USMCA is so important. They all agreed that the agreement will be implemented — but they do not know when it will happen.

Interviewing conference attendee, Francisco Salas Romero, Harinas.

Interviewing conference attendee, Francisco Salas Romero, Harinas.

“NAFTA has integrated the U.S. and Mexican economies steadily over 30 years,” said speaker Juan Carlos Baker, who served on the Mexican government’s USMCA negotiating team and now is a private trade consultant in Mexico. “But recently, the negative voices about NAFTA and USMCA have been the loudest. We must tell the positive stories about our trade benefits and the USMCA. I believe we will have a new agreement and will be able to continue trade, but how open it will be is up to us to determine.”

José Luis Fuente, President of Camara Nacional de LA Industria Molinera de Trigo (CANIMOLT), offered an inspired appeal to work together to tell officials in both countries that export opportunities must be improved, not restricted.

José Luis Fuente, President of Camara Nacional de LA Industria Molinera de Trigo (CANIMOLT)

José Luis Fuente, President of Camara Nacional de LA Industria Molinera de Trigo (CANIMOLT)

“We know that U.S. wheat farmers and U.S. Wheat Associates have done many things to tell this story,” Mr. Fuente said. “We have a partnership based on affection that is backed by actions. But actions are more needed now in this unusual trade environment.”

A large portion of the conference focused on other actions that can help facilitate U.S. wheat trade between Mexico and the United States. Two speakers focused on how millers can manage price risk. Christopher Lawrence, Senior Market Strategist with Rabobank, covered how best to hedge exchange rate exposure between U.S. dollars and Mexican pesos. Austin Damiani, an independent wheat futures trader from Minneapolis, Minn., provided valuable insight into hedging price risk.

<em>Austin Damiani, independent trader, Minneapolis Grain Exchange</em>

Austin Damiani, independent trader, Minneapolis Grain Exchange

“It is very important to consider locking in prices with futures,” Damiani said. “I am a speculator who bets on how the market will move. That is a risky activity. But I believe that as wheat buyers, if you are not hedging you are speculating.”

Panel discussion speakers: Justin Gilpin, CEO, Kansas Wheat; and Luis Olivera, Executive Vice President Sales, Ferromex, Mexico City.

Panel discussion speakers: Justin Gilpin, CEO, Kansas Wheat; and Luis Olivera, Executive Vice President Sales, Ferromex, Mexico City.

With so many logistical options for delivering wheat to Mexico, USW Regional Vice President Mitch Skalicky and his colleagues based in Mexico City who planned the conference emphasized commercial rail issues and opportunities in the program. A panel discussion on optimizing rail shipments and minimizing additional expenses included the President of Kansas City Southern Railroad-Mexico, and the Executive Vice President of Sales for Ferromex (Mexico’s national rail system). These two private sector companies are the principal railroads who operate Mexico’s rail lines through long term concessions that they have with the Government of Mexico. Representatives from the Mexican government and U.S. wheat grower organizations were also included on the panel. Gabriel Letona of Advan Sea in Panama City, Panama, also discussed the comparative advantages of FOB and CIF ocean freight contracting.

Presentations on contracting to receive U.S. wheat of superior value and how the U.S. farmer co-operative system has evolved as a major source of efficiently delivered wheat and grain exports rounded out what participants deemed as a very welcome and successful conference.

Chuck Conner, CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

Chuck Conner, CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

“We have 14 farmers here from 13 different states and U.S. Wheat Associates staff from 3 offices to show you that we take your business seriously,” Chris Kolstad told the millers. Those farmers, state commission members and USW, he added, “are all united in our desire and goal to earn your full trust in the United States as your primary source of imported wheat.”

*Header Photo Caption: Panel on “Optimizing Rail Operations of U.S. Wheat Shipments and Minimizing Additional Expenses for Mexican Importers.


Name: Carlos Marcelo Mitre Dieste

Title: Technical Specialist

Office: USW Mexican, Central American and Caribbean Regional Office, Mexico City

Providing Service to: Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Leeward-Windward Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela

Regional Profile: The combination of economic growth, consolidation, increasing urbanization, and a steadily growing population is a catalyst for rising wheat food product consumption in this region. For example, the evolution of franchising, fast foods, convenience stores, snack foods, dual-income households, and more demanding consumers has led to the establishment of new products, better quality, more uniform standards, and a larger overall market for bread but also for Asian-style noodles, cookies, crackers, and pasta. Given the quality and diversity of U.S. wheat supplies and the comparative geographic advantages, USW’s focus on increased technical service and assistance is paying dividends as the region’s demand for wheat continues to grow.

Growing up in Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico, young Marcelo Mitre’s experiments in his family kitchen firmly established his interest in food and, eventually, a career in the science of food production.

“I have always loved to eat, and as a kid, I would try to make every recipe I saw in newspapers or on TV shows, and my Mom has many funny stories about my early attempts in the kitchen,” Marcelo said. “But eventually, I was making cakes at home and selling them at my high school.”

Although he wanted to continue exploring his interest, Marcelo did not initially see options to do professional studies in the food sector, so he enrolled as a Marketing major at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM).

“Then, during a function at school near the end of my first semester, I bumped into this small program called ‘Food Industry Engineering,” he recalled. “When I looked at the academic curriculum, the laboratory courses looked very interesting, and I immediately switched my major.”

A Framework for a Career

Marcelo’s undergraduate experience framed his work today as a Technical Specialist with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), serving flour milling and wheat food processing organizations in Mexico, Central America, Venezuela, and the Caribbean. Internships at a large brewing company, a meat packing plant, and a frozen food manufacturer gave him experience in different food industries. He also considers his ITESM Professor of Cereal Science, Dr. Sergio Serna-Saldivar, as his mentor.

“After graduating, I continued working at the frozen food products company in Mexico,” Marcelo said, “then Dr. Serna suggested I apply for a master’s program studying cereal science with Dr. Lloyd Rooney at Texas A&M University. My master’s thesis was Barley Tortillas and Barley Flours in Corn Tortillas. We chose the topic because tortillas are the staple food in Mexico, and I wanted to see if we could increase the health benefits and textural characteristics of tortillas.”

Technical Specialist Marcelo Mitre earned a master’s degree with a thesis on improving tortilla nutrition. He continues to promote flour tortilla nutrition and quality improvement using U.S. wheat.

Post-graduate experience in commercial food research and development and technical sales continued Marcelo’s path toward his responsibilities at USW. At Sage V foods in Texas, he developed rice products. At Illinois-based Continental Custom Ingredients, Inc., Marcelo represented the company’s stabilizers, emulsifiers, and ingredient systems with Latin American food customers. He eventually opened a laboratory in Mexico City for that company, later acquired by Tate and Lyle.

“I liked the combination of R&D and sales a lot,” Marcelo said. “I am a very hands-on person, and technical sales gave me the opportunity to interact with the clients and understand their needs. I also liked being in the laboratory using what I learned from the clients to help develop solutions for them.”

The Right Fit for USW

In 2009, Marcelo returned to the United States to work at a cooking fats and oils company in Miami, Fla. At the same time, USW Regional Vice President Mitch Skalicky was searching for the right individual who could serve in a wide-ranging technical position.

“All the candidates I had interviewed were either not qualified or did not fit the profile we needed,” Skalicky said. “I asked a contact at ITESM to let us know if they had a potential candidate. Not long after, Dr. Serna made the connection that brought Marcelo to USW. In Marcelo, we saw a highly intelligent person, having graduated from one of the top universities in Latin America, with a very strong background in engineering, technology, and food science.”

Several things about the job with USW attracted me,” Marcelo said. “It was a chance to continue doing hands-on work across the very active flour and wheat foods industry based in Mexico City but still traveling throughout the region and internationally. Mitch and others explained that this was a not-for-profit organization representing U.S. wheat farmers with a very low turnover of people. That told me this would be a nice work environment.”

Based on customer needs and the annual regional activities plan, Marcelo is responsible for activities that range from helping flour mills blend flour from different U.S. wheat classes to improve product quality and reduce costs, to conducting cookie and bread baking seminars for food processors, alone or with consultants, to pasta production courses across the region.

Baking instruction and quality evaluation with customers in Mexico, Central America, Venezuela, and the Caribbean is a crucial part of Mitre’s work.

“Marcelo represents the very positive and strategic support we get from U.S. Wheat Associates,” said an executive with a large flour milling company in Honduras. “We know we can count on him to guide us or give us suggestions on how to address a challenge, and we bring him to visit our clients to find ways to improve their processes or products.”

Another regional flour milling executive said Marcelo is a very important link to information about U.S. wheat quality and processing.

A baking company manager in Guatemala also testifies to Marcelo’s technical baking knowledge and how he applies it in workshops to demonstrate the benefits of U.S. wheat flour. The manager added: “I can attest that Marcelo is a responsible person who is committed to his work, is very organized, and has excellent people skills.”

A Balanced Approach

Marcelo said long-distance running, which was something he started in high school “to lose weight,” taught him to balance work, social life, sleep, and training for five marathon races, running four of them in less than three hours!

“There are no excuses if you fail to do one of the four,” he said, “because you will be the only one affected. You become very organized in your life because every minute counts in your schedule.”

“Marcelo has shown an exceptional work ethic combined with the ability to learn quickly, adapt to a diverse set of circumstances and respond in a very flexible way to any challenge,” Skalicky said. “He has the interpersonal skills to work with both management as well as production and quality control staff.”

“It is a pleasure to work with U.S. Wheat Associates, and for the U.S. farmers we represent,” Marcelo said. “The people in all our offices are very friendly, and you can contact anyone, anywhere, about any question, and they will share information without hesitation. Most important,” he added, “our work is focused on giving our customers freely, without obligation, the information and skills they need to improve their products and businesses. And we feel very good about being able to do that!”

Mitre’s work and enthusiasm takes him all over the region, working with various customers and groups.

By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of posts profiling U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) technical experts in flour milling and wheat foods production. USW Vice President of Global Technical Services Mark Fowler says technical support to overseas customers is an essential part of export market development for U.S. wheat. “Technical support adds differential value to the reliable supply of U.S. wheat,” Fowler says. “Our customers must constantly improve their products in an increasingly competitive environment. We can help them compete by demonstrating the advantages of using the right U.S. wheat class or blend of classes to produce the wide variety of wheat-based foods the world’s consumers demand.”

Meet the other USW Technical Experts in this blog series:


Ting Liu – Opening Doors in a Naturally Winning Way
Shin Hak “David” Oh – Expertise Fermented in Korean Food Culture
Tarik Gahi – ‘For a Piece of Bread, Son’
Gerry Mendoza – Born to Teach and Share His Love for Baking
Peter Lloyd – International Man of Milling
Ivan Goh – An Energetic Individual Born to the Food Industry
 Adrian Redondo – Inspired to Help by Hard Work and a Hero
Andrés Saturno – A Family Legacy of Milling Innovation
Wei-lin Chou – Finding Harmony in the Wheat Industry


By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) represents the interests of U.S. wheat farmers in international markets. The organization is grateful to all its overseas wheat buyers, flour millers and wheat food processors for their strong preference for U.S. wheat and for their friendship. At a time when new circumstances have generated some uncertainty about trade, USW believes it is important to provide perspective on the long-standing, loyal relationship U.S. wheat farmers have with one of those customers: our neighbor to the south, Mexico.

Simply put, Mexico is one of the largest U.S. wheat buyers in the world, importing just under 3.0 million metric tons (MMT) on average going back many years. Mexico’s U.S. wheat imports typically only fall just short of the volume Japan imports. Not this year, however. In the first 7 months of marketing year 2016/17 through Feb. 2, Mexico’s flour millers have imported 2.4 MMT of U.S. wheat, which is more than any other country. That volume is up 5 percent over last year at the same time.

Breaking down their purchases by class, flour millers in Mexico generate strong demand for U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat. In 2015/16, they were the leading HRW importers and are taking advantage of the favorable prices and high quality of the 2016/17 HRW crop. At a current volume of about 1.4 MMT, they have imported 71 percent more HRW this year and again lead buyers of that class. A rising number of industrial bakeries, along with traditional artisanal bakeries, account for about 70 percent of wheat consumption according to CANIMOLT, the association representing Mexican millers. That puts HRW producers in a good position to meet that demand. Being closer to HRW production and having a highly functioning ability to import a large share of HRW directly via rail from the Plains states is an advantage for Mexico’s buyers.

In addition, Mexico is home to Bimbo, the world’s largest baked goods company, and an increasing number of cookie and cracker companies. The low protein content, soft endosperm and weaker gluten of U.S. soft red winter wheat (SRW) is well suited to the production of cookies, crackers and pastries, and serves as an excellent blending wheat. Millers supplying this growing market imported an average of 1.2 MMT of SRW between 2011/12 and 2015/16. With imports from the Gulf of more than 730,000 MT of SRW so far in 2016/17, Mexico is the top buyer of SRW again. USW and state wheat commissions from the PNW are also helping demonstrate how millers and bakers can reduce input costs by blending with U.S. soft white (SW).

As it does with all U.S. wheat importing customers, USW focuses on helping Mexico’s buyers, millers and food processors solve problems or increase their business opportunities with U.S. wheat classes. This effort, supported by wheat farmers and the partnership with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, has fostered a productive relationship that has endured for decades through many challenges. More than 22 years of duty free access to the Mexican market under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) certainly helped build the relationship.

Yet our customers there have many other sources of milling wheat to which they can turn. In response to rising world grain prices in 2008, Mexico lifted a 67 percent import tariff on wheat from outside the United States and Canada. In 2009/10, France made the first non-NAFTA origin wheat sale to Mexico since the trade agreement was implemented in 1995. Russian and Ukrainian wheat has been imported, too. To date, the tariff has not been reapplied and the Mexican import market is currently tariff-free for wheat from all qualified origins. Just this week, the leaders of Brazil and Argentina, both large grain exporting nations, said they would pursue closer ties with Mexico and other Latin American nations.

Looking ahead, NAFTA will likely be renegotiated. USW and wheat farmers understand that there are a number of elements of the trade agreement that need to be re-examined and modernized. The successful story of how U.S. wheat farmers and their customers in Mexico have worked together in a mutually beneficial way must be shared as part of the effort to update NAFTA. For now, U.S. wheat continues to flow to our customers in Mexico. During upcoming trade negotiations and beyond the eventual outcomes, wheat farmers, through USW, will continue to help and support the buyers from Mexico, as they would help and support their own neighbors.