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USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Daniel Whitley recently returned from leading a U.S. trade mission to the Philippines. The mission’s objective was to help foster stronger ties and build economic partnerships between the United States and the Philippines. The mission included representatives from 29 U.S. agribusinesses and farm organizations and 10 state departments of agriculture who are interested in exploring export opportunities in the Philippines.

Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council, Red Lake Fall, Minn., shared his experience on the trade mission that included meetings with U.S. wheat customers in the Philippines.

People Make It A Small World

“Participating in the trade mission, I was reminded how big this world physically is and the miracle of modern transportation. However, from a human perspective, it is a small world,” Vogel said. “The concerns about geopolitics, world wheat supplies, market volatility, and weather were the exact same questions domestic buyers ask me about hard red spring [HRS] wheat. People are people the world over.

“A key takeaway from this trade mission is the value U.S. wheat farmers receive from the continued efforts of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its staff, who set up meetings, tours, and dinners with millers, bakers and associations. Some themes became apparent. USW staff has developed deep and genuine relationships with these HRS buyers and end users. They provide technical skills and resources to assist these partners in maximizing use, expanding markets and product lines, and improving business. The consistent quality of HRS provided by U.S. growers, including from Minnesota, is essential to the value proposition USW utilizes. In the face of a rising U.S. dollar and uncertain geopolitics, these relationships are critical to continued success.”

Meeting Wheat Customers

USW Country Director Joe Bippert and the USW Manila team arranged a tour and meeting with Gardenia Bakery, a large commercial bread and wheat food company in Manila, for Vogel. In addition, Vogel and Bippert met with leaders of the Filipino Chinese Bakery Association.

Vogel’s photo at the top of this page is from a visit to the flagship store of Eng Bee Tin, an over 90-year-old landmark in the heart of the oldest Chinatown in the world. Eng Bee Tin produces hopia, a popular snack in the Philippines.

“We met wonderful, hospitable and genuine people in Manila, and I was happy to let them know how much our wheat growers in Minnesota and across the country appreciate their support for our products,” Vogel said.

Customer meeting during Philippines trade mission

Valued Customers. (L-R) Charlie Vogel and Joe Bippert met with Royce Gerik Chua, Eng Bee Tin, Jerry Midel, Philippine Society of Baking, and Henry Ah, Liberty Food Mart, during the FAS trade mission to the Philippines in July 2022.

World’s Most Reliable

USW and its legacy organizations have maintained an office in the Philippines for almost 60 years. Flour millers in the Philippines rely on U.S. HRS, soft white and hard red winter milling wheat to meet the growing demand for wheat foods in the island nation. Administrator Whitley also noted that the Philippines is the eighth-largest market for U.S. agricultural and food products, with even more potential. There is a reason for that, he said.

“Everywhere I go, trading partners are looking for a reliable supplier. And they view American agriculture to be the most reliable in the world,” Whitley said. “That, along with our outstanding qualities and the fact that we are embracing the challenge to produce commodities that are more sustainable.”

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Originally printed in Dakota Gold, June 2020, Volume 37, No. 4; Reprinted with permission from the North Dakota Wheat Commission

Dr. Senay Simsek, Bert L. D’Appolonia Cereal Science and Technology of Wheat Endowed Professor, will be leaving North Dakota State University (NDSU) at the end of June to take a position at Purdue University as the head of the Food Science Department. Even though she may be leaving NDSU, the work that she has done will leave a lasting impact.

Dr. Simsek began her career at NDSU in 2007 after obtaining her Ph.D. from Purdue. While she was fairly new to world of wheat, her background in cereal and food chemistry prepared her well for the role.

A significant portion of Dr. Simsek’s position has been to manage the wheat quality lab at NDSU. The lab analyzes thousands of spring wheat lines each year, including breeder material and samples for the regional crop quality report that is used by thousands of customers each year. Simsek also took on numerous graduate students in her 14 years at NDSU, training the next generation of cereal science professionals. She completed extensive amounts of research, mostly related to wheat quality and performance, many of the ideas which came about after discussions with domestic and international customers and her desire to help solve issues or answer questions customers had about various topics.

Showing Dr. Senay Simsek at work for USW in the Philippines

During one of her many consulting activities promoting U.S. spring wheat, Dr. Senay Simsek paused with Ellison Dean Lee, Managing Director, Universal Robina Co. Flour, Philippines, to point out the American Quality Wheat seal on packages of URC’s Baker John brand pan bread.

Clear Competence

Joe Sowers, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Regional Vice President based in the Philippines recalls the first time he met Dr. Simsek in Fargo with a high-level delegation of Filipino millers.

“Through Senay’s affable charisma and clear competence in discussing wheat quality, she and the millers became fast friends. At the end of the meeting the Director of the Philippine Flour Millers Association told me that training from Dr. Simsek was what his industry needed,” Sowers said.

The next year Dr. Simsek provided her first training to the Philippine millers and returned ten times after that, fostering strong relationships with millers in the Philippines and helping to maintain the country as the top HRS market. Dr. Simsek provided training in many other countries and presented on USW sponsored crop quality tours in all the major regions – reaching thousands of customers during her career at NDSU.

“Every visit Senay made to various customers around the world paid off for U.S. wheat farmers,” Sowers added. “Her ability to illustrate the superior quality profiles offered by U.S. HRS was integral in proving its value to the milling and baking industries, reinforcing their preference for U.S. HRS.”

Passion for Wheat Quality

Presenting quality data, conducting training, and completing research on behalf of customers became a top priority for Simsek and one that benefited producers tremendously. Greg Svenningsen, NDWC Chairman says, “when you saw her interacting with a trade team, you could easily see her passion for wheat quality and that her expertise was well received by customers. As a producer, I didn’t always understand the topic or the in-depth technicalities of some of the discussion, but what was evident was that she was providing much needed information to the industry and to our customers. In return, they could better understand our wheat and be maintained as customers.”

Dr. Senay Simsek at Northern Crops Institute

Dr. Senay Simsek enjoys a light moment with USW Regional Vice President Matt Weimar (L) and USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung (R) during one of the many events in which she participated with USW.

Sowers and others in the industry that traveled with Dr. Simsek over the years noted that her energy, friendliness, and willingness to build relationships with customers melded with her extensive scientific background to make her a sought-after resource for customers. While Dr. Simsek will be missed by colleagues at NDSU and North Dakota producers, we hope to see her involved with U.S. wheat promotion in some format.

Dr. Senay Simsek and USW's Joe Sowers at Philippines flour mill.

Dr. Senay Simsek and USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers (L) with a flour milling team in the Philippines.

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By Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President for Philippines and Korea

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is very pleased that the Tariff Commission of the Republic of the Philippines has extended anti-dumping duties on imports of wheat flour originating and exported from the Republic of Turkey until 2023. The commission’s ruling, announced Sept. 9, 2020, extended anti-dumping duties that were first imposed in 2014 after PAFMIL, the Philippine Association of Flour Millers, Inc., proved that Turkish flour imports threatened to cause material injury to the domestic milling industry. The decision marks the culmination of a decade-long effort by the Philippine flour industry to deter Turkey’s unfair trade practices and secure a fair and competitive market for wheat and flour trade.

USW and U.S. officials have been aware for many years that the Turkish government employs a complex, inward processing scheme that creates incentives for its milling industry to export flour regardless of price, distorting and disrupting flour markets around the world. In making its original case to the Philippine Tariff Commission, PAFMIL argued that the landed cost of Turkish flour was much lower than imported flour from other countries, lower than the prices of flour produced by the Philippine industry and, indeed, well below flour prices in Turkey. USW provided significant information on relative costs and other factors that supported PAFMIL’s case.

In 2014, anti-dumping duties of up to 16.19% were imposed on Turkish flour. Combined with the MFN tariff rate of 7 percent, the duties were enough to reduce imports of Turkish flour by more than 70 percent and allow the Philippine milling industry to increase production of flour needed to make high-quality Philippine wheat food products. The growth in demand for locally produced flour allowed mills to expand and helped smaller and independent Philippine flour milling companies to enter the growing market.

U.S. wheat farmers, who have had representation in the Philippines for 59 years, will also see benefits from PAFMIL’s effort. The Philippines is currently the world’s third largest wheat importer, with demand for wheat flour and milling wheat nearly doubling in the last decade. Its expanding population, coupled with increasing per capita income, has contributed to a surge in consumption of wheat-based products, especially bread, noodles, biscuits and cakes. The Philippine milling industry purchases nearly all its milling wheat from the United States for its quality and consistency. The impact of PAFMIL’s effort is clear with imports of U.S. hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat rising from 2.16 million metric tons (MMT) in marketing year 2015/16 to 3.58 MMT in 2019/20.

Source: USDA

 

Source: USDA

However, the original tariffs were set to expire at the end of 2019 and PAFMIL’s request for extension had to make the case that ending the tariffs would encourage Turkish exporters to target the Philippines again, increasing exports through their established dumping practices and, in turn, resume its threat to the Philippine milling industry.

PAFMIL’s successful petition to the Tariff Commission stated: “Once the duty is lifted, Turkish flour will come in at even lower prices and cause damage to the local industry. Extension of the anti-dumping duty will help these emerging independent Philippine flour millers to establish themselves and even expand such that the needs of the Philippine market for flour will be fully addressed.” After finding that Turkish exporters continued to dump flour in the Philippines during the period of investigation and would likely resume large scale exports should the duties be lifted, the Tariff Commission extended the anti-dumping duties for another three years, in fact increasing the top rate to 29.57 percent.

As an organization that believes in the value of a trade environment in which the participants compete fairly and openly, USW was happy to support PAFMIL’s request to reinstate the anti-dumping duties. And we were humbled by a recent letter from PAFMIL Executive Director Ric Pinca to our organization:

“I write to thank you for the support and encouragement the U.S. Wheat Associates extended … in our campaign for fair trade against the Turkish government and its wheat flour milling industry. It was a difficult and uphill fight, but we had the truth and your support behind us. With these, we never wavered in our confidence and we have been rewarded with a favorable ruling by the Philippine Tariff Commission … We couldn’t have gained this victory without your unceasing support, for which we are deeply appreciative and grateful.”

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Name: Adrian “Ady” Redondo

Title: Technical Specialist

Office: USW South Asian Regional Office, Manila

Providing Service to: Republic of the Philippines and Korea


Growing up on his grandparents’ small farm in the Philippines province of Batangas, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Technical Specialist Adrian “Ady” Redondo learned that hard work is a great motivator.

“My father was away working in Saudi Arabia, and my mother worked as a midwife, so my three sisters and I spent our childhood helping our grandparents raise chickens and grow rice and corn. I learned that life is hard, and you don’t get to eat if you don’t sweat,” Redondo said. “But my grandparents also encouraged me to do well in school and be successful for them because they had to work on the farm with their parents to make ends meet instead of getting an education.”

The wisdom of grandparents helped set Ady Redondo on a path toward education and a career in food technology. In the top photo, his Grandmother Barbara (right) joined Redondo (far left), his mother Paz, younger sisters Anna Rose and Angelica, and a friend at a Flores de Mayo prayer service at church. In the bottom photo, his Grandfather Miguel holds Redondo surrounded by neighbors and friends. Redondo said his grandfather fought to get him in first grade even though he was too young: “He insisted I was just as smart as everyone in the class…and they accepted me.”

At his elementary school, lessons about a Batangueño hero added inspiration to Redondo’s interest in science.

María Y. Orosa was from the same hometown as Redondo’s mother and was considered the Philippines’ first female scientist. She invented the palayok oven to help families bake without access to electricity and developed recipes for local produce, including a banana ketchup formulation that became a favorite Filipino condiment and cooking ingredient. Orosa also used her knowledge of food technology to help save prisoners in World War II by inventing soyalac, a protein-rich powder from local ingredients, that she smuggled into the prison camps. Then, tragically, Orosa was killed in an Allied bombing raid.

Statue honoring María Orosa, Historical Park and Laurel Park, Batangas Provincial Capitol Complex. Photo copyright By Ramon F. Velasquez.

At home, Redondo had started cooking rice and eggs by the age of seven, and his interest in food and the sciences grew. He was valedictorian of his elementary school class and Salutatorian of his high school class. Once again, his grandparents were the catalyst for his next chapter.

The friendly competition helped fuel Redondo’s very successful high school education and prepared him for an excellent university. On the right, Redondo and his mother, Paz, with classmate May and her mother, Apolinaria, at a high school awards ceremony. On the left, Redondo at his 1997 high school graduation (as Salutatorian) with classmates (L-R) Cecilia, his cousin Norma and Cecil. “I hung out with them at lunch because they always had nice snacks and desserts, and the conversations were fun,” Redondo said.

“My grandparents always talked with respect about someone who graduated in agriculture from the University of the Philippines in the city of Los Baños, an area also known for its hot springs resorts,” Redondo said. “That is where they wanted us to go. When I discovered that the university offered a degree in Food Science and Technology, I knew I had to pass the tough exams and get into the program.”

Part of Redondo’s university studies included collaborative work with Nestlé Philippines, Inc. The company was looking for ways to develop coffee and coffee mixes that aligned the most sensory appeal for Filipino consumers with its international standards. As a student and during an internship at Nestlé, Redondo helped develop “3-in-1” flavored coffee mixes that were launched commercially to Philippine consumers under the Nescafé brand.

Redondo noted that the University of the Philippines is the top university in the country and has generated countless breakthroughs in research and established trailblazing leadership in agriculture, veterinary medicine, and forestry education.

Future food technologists at their 2001 graduation from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. College buddies (L-R) CJ, Redondo, Ed, and Joel were all student members of the Philippine Association of Food Technologies.

After graduation (which offered a great sense of pride for his grandparents), Redondo took the advice of his Nestlé internship supervisor to gain a wide range of experience inside the Philippines’ thriving food production industry before venturing outside as a sales representative. So, he said the start of his career included “most of the work that a food technologist could see,” including research and development, quality control and assurance, technical service, production management, and technical sales.

“Almost all of that work related to the baking industry,” Redondo said. “I did technical servicing for Sonlie International, a company that distributed LeSaffre yeast in the Philippines, and learned proper commercial baking there under the tutelage of the company’s Head Baking Technician Rolly Dorado, who had served as a baking consultant for U.S. Wheat Associates in the 1980s.”

Redondo also worked as a production supervisor for the food service department of “a local burger chain” and in research and development for a company supplying premixes to Dunkin Donuts franchises in the Philippines.

Toward the Next Generation

His next career move into technical sales for commercial ingredient companies put him on a direct path to his current position in USW’s next generation of technical experts.

“I love to meet people, interact with them, and share what I know while learning from them at the same time,” Redondo said. “I had that opportunity as a technical sales executive at Bakels, a Swiss company that manufactures, sells, and supports high-quality bakery ingredients around the world.”

Redondo joined Bakels Philippines in 2005, where he found great value in the work of a colleague, Gerardo Mendoza, who is now a veteran Baking Technologist with USW/Manila.

Redondo worked with USW Baking Technologist Gerry Mendoza (left) when they both worked in technical sales at a global bakery ingredient company, Bakels.

“I worked with Gerry on provincial accounts, and eventually, I moved to key accounts where I had a lot of success,” Redondo said. “Gerry moved on, and I moved on to a multinational food ingredient company called Ingredion, specializing in modified starches and sweeteners.”

Redondo said his experience at Nestlé opened the door to the technical sales position at Ingredion. Gleaning from Mendoza’s passion for the work and people and his experience at Bakels, Redondo was able to build additional revenue for Ingredion’s Philippines and greater Southeast Asia bakery segment. He was recognized with Southeast Asia Top Sales Awards and “Best Campaigns” for three consecutive years.

“I think this success also came from trying to create additional value for whatever product Ingredion was selling,” Redondo said.

Any Resource Available

Toward the end of the ten years Redondo spent at Ingredion, USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers was making plans to maintain a high level of technical support to the growing wheat foods industry in the Philippines. USW/Manila’s reputation for employing any resource available to help its customers succeed has helped make the Philippines the top global market for U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and soft white (SW) wheat. A fortunate change in USW’s funding sources helped solidify Sowers’ plan.

“As a result of the trade dispute between the United States and China, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service made additional export market development funding available under the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program,” Sowers said. “This allowed us to hire a new Technical Specialist in Manila who could expand our after-sales service while training for a long time with our regional technicians. Fortunately, Gerry Mendoza had someone in mind for the job.”

“I liked working in the commercial food industry, but no matter how well you did, you would only be as good as last month’s or last year’s sales,” Redondo said. “Then, I was able to talk with Gerry and Bakery Consultant Roy Chung during an interview, who told me that success in technical support at U.S. Wheat Associates would be about helping local companies grow while helping farmers in the United States build demand for their wheat. I was all in after that talk.”

“We knew Ady had a solid background in the bakery ingredients industry that gave him the capability and credibility to contribute at a high level to our mission in the Philippines from his first day,” Sowers said. “He has also shown a strong work ethic combined with a pleasant demeanor since he joined our team in June 2019.”

“Right away, I understood that my focus would be on building relationships and serving bakery manufacturers and associations, providing technical support to flour mills, and promoting innovations in baking and quality analysis in the Philippines,” Redondo said.

Character Doesn’t Change

Late on a Friday afternoon, not long after he joined USW, Redondo had the chance to apply that focus to a flour mill that had a question about performance issues with a new U.S. wheat crop shipment. Sowers said Redondo responded immediately and asked to visit the mill Saturday morning to understand the problem better. Coordinating with other USW colleagues and a state-side university expert, Redondo was able to help the customer solve their immediate concerns and change purchase specifications to avoid similar issues in the future.

“Roy Chung likes to say the value of people is in their character; skills can be learned, character doesn’t change,” Sowers said. “Redondo’s willingness to go the extra mile, providing attention outside of office hours, was a solid indication that he would be very successful with our organization.”

That is becoming a hallmark of Redondo’s work. A Philippines baking industry executive recently noted that he is easy to work with and always responsive to the company’s inquiries.

“I am thankful that during this COVID-19 pandemic, Redondo was able to respond to our request for a webinar about Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) as a measure of flour functionality,” the executive said. “He effectively organized the webinar and gave us new knowledge, proving there is no right time and venue to learn. He is surely adding value to U.S. wheat.”

In addition to “learning the ropes” with Mendoza and Chung, Redondo said he had been actively participating in trade visits, technical support inquiries, and teaching bakery science until the pandemic put restrictions on face-to-face customer interaction.

In October 2019, Redondo (back row, fourth from right) helped Mendoza (seated first on the left), USW Seoul Country Director CY Kang (front row seated, third from left), and USW Seoul Food/Bakery Technologist Shin Hak (David) Oh (front row sitting on the far right) organize and conduct two Baking Workshops on Korean Breads and Cakes to help Philippine bakers diversify product offerings as well as production techniques.

Another opportunity Redondo looks forward to is a Cereal Science Seminar he and Mendoza have created for technical staff at local flour mills.

“This will hopefully give them a better understanding of the quality testing they conduct with wheat and flour,” Redondo said. “And, of course, to help further affirm the superior qualities of U.S. wheat.”

While continuing to help customers and train with his USW colleagues, Redondo looks forward to the future.

“I like the working culture at U.S. Wheat Associates,” he said. “Everyone is so passionate about their jobs. They genuinely work as if they are fulfilling a duty of care for their industry, which is infectious. This really is an organization you can grow in – and it also grows on you.”


By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth 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
Marcelo Mitre – A Love of Food and Technology that Bakes in Value and Loyalty
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

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By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes customer engagement, supply chain transparency and free access to market information are the building blocks for robust relationships with U.S. wheat overseas customers. Every year, USW hosts several foreign trade delegations on trips to the United States to help foster these relationships. These delegations of millers, bakers, wheat buyers and executives from overseas mills and end-product manufacturers visit many stops along the U.S. wheat supply chain including wheat farms, state wheat commissions, export inspection facilities, export elevators, test labs, wheat breeding programs, bakeries and more. These trips are designed to assure overseas customers of the quality, abundance, end-use versatility and value of U.S. wheat.

This week, I joined my USW colleagues in Portland, Ore., who hosted a trade delegation of milling executives, including vice presidents, marketing directors and quality control and plant managers, from the Philippines. Many participants were from companies that are customers of U.S. wheat, yet had never been to the United States themselves. On day one, I asked each participant about what they wanted to learn on the 10-day trip. Interests ranged from supply chain management to best practices in flour milling and quality control measures to visiting export terminals and wheat farms Others were looking forward to learning more about quality benchmarks at U.S. bakeries and discussing new marketing insights which could appeal to the growing “foodie” generation of Filipino consumers. Each trade delegation experience is a little different, but each offers a variety of tours, meetings and seminars to address the diverse needs of each group.

The delegations first visit was to the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC), where they met Managing Director Janice Cooper, Technical Director Dr. Jayne Bock and a team of technical specialists. WMC demonstrates U.S. wheat quality and marketing differentiation by providing flour and end-use research and technical training. The delegation watched WMC specialists use a new solvent retention capacity (SRC) testing machine that creates a “fingerprint” analysis of the wheat. The delegation was very interested in the test’s ability to accurately predict end-use functionality for high volume samples of soft and hard wheat flours. Participants emphasized that flour consistency is a high priority for consumers and wanted to know more about research in the United States addressing this issue. WMC staff explained that U.S. wheat farmers use precision agriculture tools to better regulate and monitor nitrogen application, which minimizes fertilizer waste and helps stabilize wheat protein levels. WMC is also conducting tests to determine if wheat with different protein levels can be still be used to create similar end-products like cakes and cookies. Members of the delegation also asked about recommended wheat and flour tests, significant issues facing the future of consistency in wheat production and what is next for the future of wheat quality testing.

Watching a demonstration at the Wheat Marketing Center.

Next, during a tour with the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), the delegation had a first-hand look at the third-party, impartial testing procedures conducted by government inspection specialists at export elevators. FGIS falls under the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service and assures, through rigid testing procedures, the quality and quantity of every grain order placed through U.S. export terminals. Through random sampling, compared to the size of the wheat shipment, FGIS specialists test for moisture, protein, unusual odors, insects, dockage, test weight, shrunken and broken particles, class and dark hard vitreous levels of each outbound wheat shipment.

Touring FGIS with commodity grader, Sam Stanley

At the Oregon Wheat Commission (OWC), the delegation met with Walter Powell, Oregon wheat farmer and OWC chairman, and Blake Rowe, OWC chief executive officer. Together, Powell and Rowe gave an excellent presentation on Oregon’s soft white (SW) wheat crop quality and marketing conditions, trade issues facing the industry and the Commission’s Wheat Quality Program. They explained that the program creates a “quality loop,” in which public crop quality data is used to inform customers, whose feedback in return directs private and public wheat breeding initiatives to improve end-use versatility and value. Powell and Rowe assured the delegation that customers have ownership in the quality development process by voicing their unique needs to members of the U.S. wheat industry.

The delegation started its second day at Franz Bakery, a large-scale U.S. bakery that services grocery stores, schools and chain restaurants in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). At the 113-year-old Portland facility, the delegation asked about marketing techniques, product differentiation and transportation logistics that allow the bakery to maintain its large PNW presence. Jodie Kelley, a Franz Bakey tour guide, emphasized that the business has been family-owned and operated since its inception, which gives it a unique marketing edge in the United States. By offering a variety of products, the bakery caters to a large customer base, including fast food chains and customers with different dietary restrictions and preferences.

The delegation’s next stop, Little T Bakery—a small, artisan bakery—gave the team a more intimate look at end-use versatility for locally-sourced SW wheat, spelt and whole-wheat flours. Unlike Franz Bakery, Little T Bakery caters to a much smaller community, baking only what it needs for the day and distributing minimally to local restaurants. Participants were greeted by the owner and baker, Tim Healea, who talked about local wheat sourcing and the challenges of marketing simple, traditional recipes in a trend-oriented industry. Team members asked about the popularity of GMO-free and gluten-free products. Healea believes the trend in gluten-free labeling is on the decline and does not market gluten-free products in his bakery.

Sampling artisan bread goods at Little T Bakery with owner and baker Tim Healea.

After the bakery tours, the delegation visited United Grain Corporation (UGC) export elevator, the biggest in the PNW at a 220,000 metric ton total storage capacity. UGC grain traders took the delegation through the technical control room that oversees all yard operations, the inspection facility that performs similar quality tests to FGIS, the rail unloading yard and the barge unloading dock. Participants asked questions about insect control, grain cleaning, quantity differentials at loading, the effects of rail costs on export and country elevator prices and the potential for rain damage during loading. At lunch, with members of the Pacific Grain Export Association (PGEA), UGC traders and a trader from Columbia Grain International gave crop quality reports on SW and hard red spring (HRS) wheat—top classes imported by the Philippines. In marketing year 2018/19, the Philippines was the largest importer of U.S. HRS and SW wheat and the second-largest overall importer of all U.S. wheat classes. The delegation was interested in hearing the traders’ long-term projections for SW wheat growth in the United States and traders shared that production should remain stable in the future as white wheat remains a “boutique” wheat on the global market, is unique to the PNW and highly valuable as an exportable commodity. Traders also forecast that customers will have access to large available supplies at reasonable prices as harvest in the PNW starts in the next few weeks. In return, to better understand the needs of their customers, traders asked the delegation about common blending practices, potential fumigation issues at delivery and vessel delays.

Touring UGC Vancouver, WA, export facility.

During the next eight days of their trip, the delegation will travel to Washington to visit wheat farms, a grain barge loading terminal, Washington State University’s Western Wheat Quality Lab and the Washington Grain Commission. Next, they will head to Idaho to visit a flour mill, a country elevator and the Idaho Wheat Commission. Finally, the delegation will finish its tour in Nebraska, where they will visit more wheat farms, another flour mill and the Nebraska Wheat Board.

Follow USW on Facebook and Twitter for pictures and updates about the delegation’s travels.

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Name: Gerardo “Gerry” S. Mendoza

Title: Baking Consultant

Office: USW South Asian Regional Office, Manila

Providing Service to: Republic of the Philippines and Korea

Regional Profile: Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, has become one of the most important export markets in the world for U.S. wheat. The Philippines is the second-largest market for all classes of U.S. wheat and has been the largest importer of soft white (SW) and hard red spring (HRS) wheat since 2013. A robust population and income growth are driving increased demand for wheat-based foods. The growing middle class has an increased ability to pay for high-quality products, while end-product manufacturers and consumer preferences give U.S. wheat classes a strong advantage. U.S. wheat farmers have invested for nearly six decades in training Philippines millers and end-product manufacturers, helping the wheat foods industry achieve world-class sophistication and expertise. Given the quality and diversity of U.S. wheat supplies, USW’s focus on increased technical service and assistance is paying dividends as the region’s demand for wheat continues to grow.


There is one thing that everyone who crosses paths with Gerry Mendoza agrees on: he is just a really positive, nice guy.

“One of Gerry’s greatest assets is a positive attitude and sincere willingness to do whatever it takes to carry a project to completion,” said Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President for the Philippines and Korea, of his Filipino colleague.

While his attitude may come naturally, Mendoza’s interest in baking started in high school when his family got an oven with a gas range.

“I started messing around with the equipment by baking simple cakes (batter type) that were manually mixed,” said Mendoza. “Eventually, I moved on to kneading dough to make pizza and apple strudel.”

Gerry Mendoza was born into a large family in Baliuag, Bulacan, an agricultural town 50 kilometers north of Manila, known for growing rice, corn, and other vegetables. The town is also famous for its baked product “Pandesal,” a traditional Filipino breakfast bread typically consumed after rice. Once at Adamson University in Manila, he received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.

“My decision to take up industrial engineering was highly influenced by my peers rather than a first choice,” said Mendoza. “I became quite interested in the food processing industry to the point that my final engineering feasibility study was about a chicken processing plant.”

A Love for Baking

Upon finishing school in 1982, Mendoza started in real estate housing development and then as a medical sales representative for a pharmaceutical company, where he says is where he gained his sales and account servicing skills. For a short time, during economic unrest in the Philippines under martial law, Mendoza spent a few years with a small craft bakery that produced traditional Filipino breads and cakes. A few years later, Mendoza returned to the bakery industry and never looked back.

For the next 25 years, Mendoza used his baking, engineering, and sales backgrounds in the bakery industry to sell and promote baking ingredients, supplies, and equipment used to produce bakery goods. During his tenures with Bakels Philippines Inc. and AB Mauri Philippines, he identified new markets, helped expand product portfolios, and developed and executed technical services that included product development programs, baking seminars, product demonstrations, recipe application development, and technical sales training.

Ultimately, one could say his combined interest in playing badminton and baking led Mendoza to U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). Sowers first met him in 2012, when he (Gerry) was running a World Bread Day badminton tournament fundraiser for the Philippine Society of Baking.

“His enthusiastic personality, strong character, and high esteem within the baking community and other industry partners led us to invite Gerry to join USW in 2016, and ever since, he has been an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Sowers. “He came to USW with more than 30 years of experience in baking and allied industries, a background that gives him a profound ability to provide relevant advice and actionable solutions to Philippine mills and end-product manufacturers.”

Committed to Customers

As a USW Baking Consultant, Mendoza’s primary responsibility is providing technical assistance and training to commercial bakeries.

“I saw this (USW) as an opportunity for me to share my baking knowledge and skills that I have nurtured and developed for most of my professional life,” said Mendoza. “Ultimately, I saw it as an opportunity to continue my passion for baking.”

That passion and Mendoza’s wealth of knowledge are what resonates with customers.

“It has always been great working with ‘Sir Gerry,’ as part of our common goal of sharing baking knowledge,” said a bakery owner in the Philippines. “By sharing his expertise with our fellow bakers in the Philippines, we are now more equipped to face the different challenges of a more globalized and competitive baking industry.”

“He guided us through our SRC (solvent retention capacity) project,” said a milling quality control manager. “From the first time we did the streaming, he joined us, collecting flour samples from each stream in the mill. It’s a very tiring process, but he was there with us until we finished collecting almost 50 samples.”

Meant to Teach

After spending many years as a regular resource speaker at the Asian Baking Institute and Philippine Foremost Milling Corporation’s Basic Commercial Baking Course, conducting lectures on different ingredients such as yeast, bread improvers, and chemical leaveners; as well as continuing to regularly conduct baking science short courses for the Philippine Society of Baking—where he serves as an officer and instructor—Mendoza has developed his natural affinity for teaching and mentoring. 

“He teaches and discusses baking in a manner that even a newcomer can easily grasp. He answers all questions [precisely], showing patience and even baking his signature ‘Madeleine’ bread for us,” said a chief operating officer for a large mill in the Philippines. “When we were organizing a baking seminar together, I found Gerry’s coordination and attention to detail excellent.”

“Working with Mr. Mendoza is really inspiring because of his approach to teaching from years of experience,” said another milling executive. “With his extraordinary way of being organized and systematic, his guidance and encouragement helps deliver excellent results for companies.”

Every customer who shared their experience working with Mendoza—the badminton player who also enjoys bike riding, karaoke, and cooking and baking at home—noted his kindness and love for working with bakers.

“He is very approachable, and you can easily feel his sincerity and general concern with whatever you are discussing,” said a chief operating officer for a large mill in the Philippines. “He displays passion in educating people with what he has mastered in his career.”

Mendoza enjoys being able to provide technical assistance and services to the thriving Philippine baking industry.

“My direct contact with millers, bakery owners, operators, and bakers through technical training and baking workshops gives me the opportunity to highlight the value of using flour made from U.S. wheat,” he said.

Another manager said, “Gerry is very easy to work with. He is very approachable, not hesitant to share his knowledge, and very quick when asked for data. He always assures us that he is always available and will always accommodate our inquiries and request. He has never failed us, and he knows how to deal pleasantly and effortlessly with everyone he meets.”

Sowers added, “Gerry Mendoza has a natural affinity for presenting information in a classroom setting or running a baking workshop in an interesting and engaging fashion. He is very creative in designing training activities and enthusiastically carries them out. I think that is why so many customers here want Gerry to put on workshops – and, of course, because he is such a nice guy.”


By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth 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’
Marcelo Mitre – A Love of Food and Technology that Bakes in Value and Loyalty
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

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By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Communications Specialist

Every year USW sends teams of U.S. farmers overseas to visit markets they supply with wheat. These regional visits highlight the day-to-day work and marketing strategies of USW’s overseas offices and connect the farmers to their customers and industry stakeholders.

“The feedback we hear consistently from our customers is how much they appreciate getting to know the farmer firsthand,” said USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Vince Peterson. “These team visits give farmers the opportunity to follow their wheat overseas, and as businessmen and women, those personal connections are invaluable.”

USW Communications Specialist Amanda Spoo will lead USW’s 2017 South Asia Board Team to Thailand and the Philippines in February. The team includes Dustin Johnsrud, a wheat farmer from Epping, ND, serving his first four-year term on the North Dakota Wheat Commission; Denise Conover, a wheat farmer from Broadview, MT, and a director on the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee; and Clint Vanneman, a wheat farmer from Ideal, SD, and a current USW director representing the South Dakota Wheat Commission.

The team will first meet at the USW West Coast Office in Portland, OR, for briefings by USW and the Wheat Marketing Center, as well as visits to the Federal Grain Inspection Service and the local United Grain export terminal. During three days in Thailand, the team will visit the United Flour Mills (UFM) Baking and Cooking School as well as tour a flour mill, a bakery and an international food manufacturing plant. The second leg of the trip features two days in the Philippines, which includes tours of a mill and a food manufacturer. The team will also have the opportunity to attend the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association Inc. (FCBAI) Bakery Fair.

The Thai milling wheat market has grown at a robust 5 percent for the past two years. USDA estimates that milling wheat demand reached 1 MMT for the first time in the 2012/13 marketing year and has increased to 1.24 MMT in 2016/17. Customers there imported about 50 percent of their milling wheat from the United States in 2015/16. In an evolving Thai market, consumer preferences are changing and there is increased demand for baked goods, biscuits and noodles. Over the past four decades, USW has worked closely with the UFM Baking and Cooking School in Bangkok to train and provide technical assistance to South Asian bakers and demonstrate the quality and value of U.S. wheat classes.

The Philippines was the third largest buyer of U.S. wheat in the 2015/16 marketing year with total imports reaching almost 2.2 MMT and was the largest buyer of both soft white (SW) and hard red spring (HRS). In this dynamic market, USW continues to help the milling and baking industry navigate changes by providing technical assistance and marketing training, and investing in activities to increase wheat flour consumption. USW established an office in Manila in 1961, allowing USW to maintain close, long-term relationships with industry leaders in the Philippines.

“Visiting these markets will give the farmers a unique look at the value of using high quality U.S. wheat and why these markets prefer it for their end-products,” said Peterson.

The team will post regular travel updates and photographs, and will report to the USW board. Follow their progress on the USW Facebook page at www.facebook/uswheat and on Twitter at @uswheatassoc.