U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works directly with overseas buyers to answer questions and resolve issues in purchasing, shipping or processing U.S. wheat through technical support and trade service including trade delegations to the United States, regular crop and market condition updates, quality surveys and other activities.

Two examples in South America confirm that USW’s face-to-face interaction with customers has a direct influence on purchase decisions. For an large flour miller buying group in Chile, processing a sample of U.S. wheat and personally observing the U.S. supply system convinced the group to purchase U.S. wheat again. And for a large miller and wheat foods producer in Ecuador, consistent trade service led to a first-time U.S. wheat purchase.

Seeing is Believing.

Chile’s Grupo 9 (G9) purchases about 30% of Chile’s imported wheat but had for several years been importing Canadian spring wheat that was priced aggressively against U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat. Through USDA Foreign Agricultural Service programs, USW provided a sample of U.S. hard red winter (HRW) and sponsored two G9 millers to participate in a 2017 visit to the United States. Based on the positive reaction to these activities, USW’s representatives in South America invited another influential G9 representative to join another trade team to the United States in June 2018.

In Portland, Ore., the participants made contacts with new Pacific Northwest grain traders and observed the FGIS grain inspection process. In Nebraska, hosted by the Nebraska Wheat Board, the team saw public HRW breeding research at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and in North Dakota they learned about the quality of the 2018/19 hard red spring (HRS) crop from the North Dakota Wheat Commission and Northern Crops Institute.

2018 Chile-Ecuador Trade Team in North Dakota at the Northern Crops Institute.

As the tour progressed, USW saw more and more interest from the participants. They learned that lower moisture U.S. wheat offers good value in their milling processes. They saw how they could use inspection data to get maximum return from their wheat import contracts. They also talked to farmers and elevator operators who showed how quality is maintained throughout the supply chain.

In September 2018, the G9 buyer told USW it was considering purchasing a full cargo of U.S. wheat. USW shared the quality data from the new harvest and past years and discussed the excellent buying opportunities. In April 2019, the buyer purchased U.S. HRW to mill into bread flour and soft red winter (SRW) to mill into cookie and pastry flour. And to continue the long-term commitment to serving the buyers group, USW sponsored the same manager to participate in the “Hard Red Spring Wheat Quality Tour” in North Dakota in July 2019.

2018 Chile-Ecuador Trade Team in North Dakota.

G9’s return to buying U.S. wheat helped significantly increase export sales to Chile in 2018/19. It is a trend that has continued into 2019/20. With a sustained effort focused on replacing Canadian supplies, USW can report that after only the first three months of the marketing year, the country’s HRW imports are already twice what they were in 2018/19 at this same time.

Constant Support

Sucesores of Jacobo Paredes M. S.A, is the largest pasta producer in Ecuador and is a major bread product producer. Its purchases represent about 10% of Ecuador’s total wheat imports for food. Mr. Xavier Sanchez is the owner of the company and is responsible for its wheat purchases. Mr. Sanchez and his team have attended virtually all the activities that USW has carried out in Ecuador. However, by tradition and experience, the company has milled only Canadian spring wheat to produce both pasta and bread flour.

USW has focused its technical support on demonstrating how the company can lower its costs and improve its bread quality by replacing at least some Canadian spring wheat with U.S. HRW. In July 2019, Mr. Sanchez participated in a USW “Wheat Purchasing Seminar,” in Quito, Ecuador. He told USW representatives based in Santiago, Chile, that USW’s constant support, along with the information he received at the seminar, had convinced him to make their first purchase of U.S. wheat. Initially, Jacobo Paredes bought 3,000 metric tons (MT) of HRW min 12% pro from the Gulf of Mexico to arrive in October 2019. Recently, the company made a second purchase of 1,500 MT of HRW to arrive in December. Mr. Sanchez said he counts on USW support, which finally made the difference in the company’s purchase decision.

2019 Wheat Purchasing Seminar in Ecuador.

Now, USW’s technical support will be applied to ensure that the U.S. wheat experience will provide the best possible value. USW will visit the mill when the first HRW wheat shipment arrives to help Jacobo Paredes with sampling, conditioning and milling, in addition to helping the company formulate the best flour blend for their bakery.

For more information about USW’s exceptional trade service and technical support, please contact your local USW office.


Header Photo Caption: 2017 Chile Trade Team in Washington.


Colombia’s flour milling industry depends on imported wheat and is separated into regional clusters by the location of Colombian ports. Wheat arriving in Buenaventura on the Pacific coast is trucked to flour mills in Cali and Bogotá to serve the country’s largest regional baking industry. Much of the wheat unloaded at Buenaventura, however, is Canadian Western Red Spring (CWRS). That is because the price and discounting tactics of the now defunct Canadian Wheat Board helped built a traditional preference for CWRS. Bakers in Cali and Bogotá, in turn, learned to mellow this strong flour with additives; logistics kept them from seeing an alternative in U.S. hard red winter (HRW).

USW’s representatives in South America saw an opportunity to change that, at first by showing a large, influential bakery in Bogotá the value of using flour from excellent quality HRW. Through the second half of 2018, USW Regional Director for South America Miguel Galdos made in-person trade servicing calls to the bakery. In early 2019, the bakery agreed to USW’s proposal to bring in a baking consultant to demonstrate an alternative baking method, sponge and dough, using flour milled from HRW.

The consultant compared the alternate method to the bakery’s standard method using flour milled from Canadian spring wheat with additives. The results in the most popular Colombian bread products and new products (functional breads, sweet breads) were very good using flour blended from at least 40% HRW and 60% CWRS with no additives. The HRW flour blend improved mixing and fermentation, dough characteristics and machine processing without hurting finished product volume and appearance. The bakery’s management decided to adapt the HRW blended flour immediately.

Galdos reported that because there was no HRW blended flour available from their Bogotá suppliers, the bakery contacted a flour mill in Cartagena because U.S. HRW and other classes were moving into Colombia through its northern Caribbean ports. The mill’s representative flew to Bogotá and Galdos reports that the mill now has a new customer purchasing flour milled exclusively from U.S. HRW.

USW recently demonstrated a similar comparison at another bakery in Medellin, Colombia, to help build a larger data base of performance benefits with HRW flour. Looking ahead, USW is sharing the benefits of the HRW blend alternative with flour mills in Cali and Bogotá and their bakery customers. The long-term goal is to increase demand for U.S. HRW to be imported through Pacific ports. USW believes this will also help create new opportunities in the Bogotá market for U.S. soft white (SW) for blending and pastry flour, and hard red spring (HRS) delivered to Colombia’s Pacific ports now dominated by Canadian spring wheat.


By Casey Chumrau, USW Marketing Manager, Santiago Office

The Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) may be somewhat unfamiliar to most farmers but serves as a major competitive advantage for U.S. grains on the international market. Based on two congressional acts establishing a standardized inspection process, all wheat exported from the United States is inspected and given a grade as it is loaded onto the export vessel, whether it be a train or ship. This independent process sets the United States apart by providing a form of certainty and protection for buyers.

An official FGIS grade certificate is sent to buyers before the vessel arrives, allowing them to make important production decisions in advance based on the characteristics of the wheat before it arrives. In addition, the buyer knows that an independent agency will certify that every shipment meets the grade requirements specified in their contract, avoiding costly conflicts between the buyer and seller. The U.S. farmer works hard to produce a high-quality crop demanded by the market, and the FGIS inspection process helps maintain that quality all the way to the end user. This is a significant differential advantage of purchasing U.S. wheat versus other origins.

FGIS has an international affairs office that provides educational training programs explaining the roll and procedures of the agency. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has used this service many times over the years, most recently July 15 to 19, 2019, in Peru, an import market of about 2.0 million metric tons (73.5 million bushels). FGIS agent Jose Robinson traveled to Peru to conduct half-day seminars in the five largest wheat importing companies in the country. Robinson gave presentations and demonstrated parts of the inspection process to 53 participants from the quality control departments of the five mills. The participants shared their processes with Robinson, showed examples of the wheat they inspected in plant and were able to test their abilities to conduct similar inspections while receiving guidance from an expert.

The participants gained a deeper understanding of the FGIS inspection protocol and testing methods and left with increased trust and confidence in the FGIS certification process. The changes implemented in the mills following the training sessions will result in fewer discrepancies between the FGIS grade and the results of local, in-plant inspections, leading to increased satisfaction with U.S. wheat.

The ability to send an FGIS agent overseas allows USW to train a large number of participants at a fraction of the cost it would require to train even a few customers in the United States.

The USW Santiago Office plans to repeat this training activity in four other South American countries over the next two years. Learn more about how USW works with buyers here.



As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson often says, at any given hour of the day there is someone, somewhere, talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. Wheat Letter wants to share some of the ways USW was working in June to promote all six classes of U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world wheat market.

Mexico. The USW Mexico City Office hosted the Mexico Wheat Trade Conference in Cancun, Mexico. Mexican millers, representing more than 85% of total Mexican milling capacity, attended the conference, as well as Mexican government officials, U.S. farmers from 13 states, U.S. grain trade representatives, and representatives from the four railroads serving the Mexican market including BNSF, Ferromex, Kansas City Southern-Mexico and Union Pacific. The program included messages from USW Chairman Chris Kolstad and USW President Vince Peterson, thanking the Mexican milling industry for their business and many years of close friendship, as well as presentations and discussions on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), price risk management, rail transportation, ocean freight, contracting for wheat value and more. Read the full article about the conference here.

Jamaica. USW Technical Specialist Marcelo Mitre and Assistant Regional Director Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann accompanied Bakery Consultant Kirk O´Donnell to Jamaica to conduct two, 2-day seminars in partnership with a local mill. The seminars—attended by a combined 57 participants from four countries representing the baking, milling and distribution sectors—focused on the quality and versatility of U.S. wheat, baking technology, ingredient functionality, traditional fermentation methods, puff pastries and shelf life.

USW Bakery Consultant Kirk O´Donnell at a seminar in Jamaica. Photo Credit: JF Mills

A participant a the baking seminar in Jamaica. Photo Credit: JF Mills

Brazil. Accompanied by USW Marketing Manager, Casey Chumrau, and Technical Specialist, Andres Saturno, a delegation of Brazilian flour milling managers who are responsible for quality control in their wheat purchases, traveled to Kansas, Ohio and Texas. During its travels, the delegation met with the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), milling companies, analysis laboratories, wheat breeding facilities and visited wheat farms.

The 2019 USW Brazilian Trade Delegation visits Texas A&M University. Photo Credit: Texas Wheat

The Philippines. The USW Manila and Seoul offices hosted a Korean Bakery Workshop in Seoul, South Korea, for Philippine bakers and millers to learn about Korean products, formulations and production methods to help the industry take advantage of growing opportunities and improving processes in the Philippines. The workshop took place at the Korean Baking School (KBS) under the direction of a Grand Master Baker and was facilitated by KBS program staff, along with USW Food Technologist, David Oh, and Country Director, CY Kang.

USW Korean Bakery Workshop in Seoul, South Korea.

Taiwan. USW collaborated with Chia Nan University (CNU) of Pharmacy and Science to host a full-day 2019 CNU Symposium on Chinese-style Steamed Breads for baking and catering professionals, souvenir development companies and culinary faculty and students. The symposium including hands-on training on how to make fermented steam bread and buns, as well as presentations on quality control of steamed bread, an introduction to wheat flours used for steamed breads and wheat flour inspection and milling.

2019 CNU Symposium on Chinese-style Steamed Breads

China. Together, USW and the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) hosted a Contracting for Wheat Value Workshop (CFWC) for Chinese buyers and technical officials. This workshop highlighted the strengths of U.S. wheat production and its reliability and high quality. Participants also had the opportunity to travel to visit Padget Ranches in Oregon’s Sherman County. Darren Padget is a wheat farmer and current USW Vice Chairman and invited the workshop participants for a farm tour and dinner barbeque with several local farmers and neighbors.

Contracting for Wheat Value Workshop participants visit Darren Padget’s farm in Oregon’s Sherman County.

*Header Photo Caption: Contracting for Wheat Value Workshop participants visit with a farmer in Oregon’s Sherman County.

Italy. USW Regional Marketing Director Rutger Koekoek spoke at the Romacereali Conference on the outlook for durum wheat for North America and North Africa. The conference is a popular event for the Italian cereal sector organized by the Rome Chamber of Commerce. Its 200 participants primarily work in the Italian durum milling, durum trading and pasta processing industries.

Sub-Saharan Africa. Accompanied by USW Assistant Regional Director, Chad Weigand, and Marketing Specialist, Olatunde Omotayo, a delegation of milling and procurement staff representing companies from Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire spent 10 days traveling to Washington D.C., North Dakota and Kansas to learning more about the excellent quality of hard red winter (HRW), hard red spring (HRS) and durum supplies available, as well as the promise of more exportable supply of hard white (HW) and the logistical advantages of purchasing from the United States

The 2019 USW Sub-Saharan Delegation at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center. Photo credit: Kansas Wheat

Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. USW Vice President of Global Technical Services, Mark Fowler, and IGP Institute Associate Director, Shawn Thiele, conducted on-site milling consultations and hands-on technical training in four flour mills in Nigeria and three flour mills in South Africa. During their visits, Fowler and Thiele gave recommendations for improving milling operations and flour quality for HRW, HW and soft red winter (SRW) flour. They also spoke at the African Milling School (AMS) in Kenya about U.S. wheat classes and milling for U.S. wheat for the AMS Apprenticeship Program


Mark Fowler (L) and Shawn Thiele (R) inspect flour at a mill in Nigeria.

USW and IGP staff at a mill for training in Nigeria.


Each year, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) invests funding from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service export market development programs to bring several teams of overseas customers and stakeholders to the United States. Visiting wheat-producing states connects customers with farmers as well as state wheat commissions and industry partners that co-sponsor local visits. The goal is the same for USW and partners: to promote the reliability, quality and value of all six U.S. wheat classes to customers around the world. Our success relies on the success of our customers and their ability to create products that appeal to consumers in markets around the globe.

So far in 2019, six USW-sponsored teams and an industry-sponsored team have traveled to 10 different states to gain greater understanding of the new U.S. wheat crops, wheat marketing structure and transportation logistics.

In March, the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore., sponsored a workshop on the unique characteristics of club wheat, a subclass of soft white (SW), for five baking technologists from Japan. Japan is a major importer of the premier U.S. soft wheat blend of club and SW known as Western White. USW worked with WMC to prepare the workshop and plan a visit to farms in Washington State growing club wheat.

A team of Japanese baking technicians participated in a club wheat workshop at the Wheat Marketing Center in March 2019 with support from USW and state wheat commissions.

In late April and early May, a team of seven senior executives from Japan’s flour milling industry, led by Country Director Charlie Utsinomiya and Associate Country Director Kazunori “Rick” Nakano, made an annual trip to the United States. These executives took in high-level meetings in Washington, D.C., including with USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, to discuss the state of U.S. trade negotiations with Japan. In Montana, the milling executives spent time with then USW Chairman Chris Kolstad on his farm near Ledger, Mont., and toured a local elevator that loads 100-car shuttle trains with hard red winter (HRW) and dark northern spring (DNS) wheat bound for Pacific Northwest export elevators.

At about the same time, USW/Taiwan Country Director Boyuan Chen led five representatives of the Taipei Bakers Association and three officials from Taiwan’s Department of Public Health on a trade team to Oregon and Manhattan, Kan. The focus for this team was to demonstrate the high-quality of U.S. wheat, sanitation and best management practices employed by domestic flour mills and bakeries and retail trends in the U.S. baking industry. This team saw the Federal Grain Inspection Service process at export, visited high-value commercial flour mills and commercial bakeries, and toured AIB International. USW Vice Chairman Darren Padget also hosted the team at his family’s farm in north-central Oregon. A collection of photos from the team visit is posted online here.

Executives from several Nigerian and South African flour mills traveled with USW Assistant Regional Director Chad Weigand and USW/Lagos Marketing Specialist Olatunde Omotayo to Washington, D.C., North Dakota and Kansas in mid-June. USW, state commissions and educational partners at IGP Institute and Northern Crops Institute demonstrated the excellent quality of HRW, HRS and durum supplies available, as well as the promise of more exportable supply of hard white (HW) for the team and the logistical advantages of purchasing from the United States.

Millers from Nigeria and South Africa saw wheat quality and varietal improvement research at Heartland Innovations in Manhattan, Kan., on their trade team visit this year.

Brazilian flour milling managers who are responsible for quality control in their wheat purchases arrived in Ohio in late June to learn more about U.S. soft red winter (SRW) and HRW quality. The visit coincided with the announcement that Brazil’s government planned to implement a duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) for wheat from countries like the United States outside the regional South American trade agreement. If implemented, the TRQ provides an opportunity for U.S. wheat to compete on an equal basis with Argentina for 750,000 metric tons of annual imports. As SRW importers, the Brazilian millers gained good information from a visit to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Soft Wheat Laboratory in Wooster, Ohio. The trade team also had the opportunity to tour wheat research facilities at Kansas State University and Texas A&M University in College Station, Tex. USW/Santiago Marketing Manager Casey Chumrau and Technical Specialist Andres Saturno led this team.

USW Market Analyst Claire Hutchins recently provided interesting insight into the trade team experience in a “Wheat Letter” post about the team of seven milling executives from the Philippines while they visited the U.S. wheat supply system in Portland. This team continued from Portland to Eastern Washington State, Idaho and Nebraska before departing for home on June 29. Philippine millers imported more SW and DNS than any other country in marketing year 2018/19 (June to May). Their total U.S. wheat imports put them in a close second position after Mexico.

Looking ahead, additional teams from Peru, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Japan and South Asian countries, as well as a team of bakery officials from South American countries, will be in the United States between now and late September. USW wants to thank our partners with USDA-FAS, state wheat commissions, educational organizations and of course the farmers we represent who make these activities possible.


As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson often says, at any given hour of the day there is someone, somewhere, talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. Wheat Letter wants to share some of the ways USW was working the past few months to promote all six classes of U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world wheat market.

Brazil. During President Bolsonaro’s meeting with President Trump in March, the Brazilian president announced the implementation of the tariff rate quota (TRQ) that would allow 750,000 MT of non-Mercosur wheat into Brazil tariff free, something USW has pushed for years to be implemented. Soon after the announcement, USW offered support to Brazilian buyers and any purchasing information they may need to consider U.S. now and in the future. When realized, this change will give U.S. wheat farmers the chance to compete fairly for a sizable part of Brazil’s import needs every year.

The Philippines. With funding provided by the Washington Grain Commission, USW organized a team of research and development managers from the Philippine milling industry to take part in an End Products Collaborative in March at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore. Recent expansion in the ASEAN milling industry has increased competition and created a need for millers to differentiate their flour products. This activity helps identify the best U.S. wheat options available.

Members of the Philippine Milling Industry participate in an End Products Collaborative at the Wheat Marketing Center.

During the End Products Collaborative the participants visited with the Wheat Marketing Center Board of Directors.

Malaysia. In March, USW South Asia Regional Vice President Matt Weimar conducted two days of trade servicing for a mill in Malaysia, which also has operations in Vietnam and Indonesia. In the past two years, this mill has doubled imports of U.S. wheat to Malaysia alone. Weimar gave a seminar on the World and U.S. Supply and Demand as of March 2019 and shared the value of utilizing additional information resources from USW and USDA.

South Korea. USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung and Food and Bakery Technologist Shin Hak (David) Oh visited Seoul in March to conduct a pre-mix seminar and workshop to demonstrate the versatility of U.S. wheat in a wide range of end products. Workshop participants enhanced their understanding of ingredient functionality and chemical leavening systems while experimenting with new product formulations in pre-mixes.

Participants of the Pre-Mix Seminar with the instructors in black: (L) USW Food and Bakery Technologist Shin Hak (David) Oh; (R) USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung.

Taiwan. In April, USW Regional Technical Director Peter Lloyd spoke at a milling seminar attended by members of the Taiwan Millers Association and faculty members of the China Grain Products Research & Development Institute (CGPRDI). Lloyd’s program focused on hard and soft wheat milling, solvent retention capacity (SRC) and SDS testing methods and their application in the mill, and profitability in the milling industry.

Milling Seminar Participants at the China Grain Products Research & Development Institute (CGPRDI).

China. To meet industry demand for deeper knowledge of techniques in frozen dough production, USW is collaborating with the Sino-American Baking school (SABS), Lesaffre Yeast and Square Technology Group Co., Ltd., to hold three sessions of frozen dough technology courses this year for millers and bakers. During the first session in March, USW Technical Specialist Ting Liu and Asian Products/Nutrition Technologist Shu-ying Yang spoke on the importance of choosing the correct flour for frozen dough by showing how freezing affects gluten functionality.

Panama. USW sponsored a wheat buyer from Panama to attend the IGP Institute Grain Purchasing Short Course in April. The course focused on contract specifications, financing grain imports, grain grading, ocean transportation, discussions of the cash and futures markets and included a visit to an export facility in Portland, Ore.

Spain, Portugal and Morocco. In March, a USW Board Team including farmers from Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming traveled to Spain, Portugal and Morocco to visit customers, millers, government officials and more to listen and learn more about those markets and how they utilize U.S. wheat. Read more about those visits here.

Visiting IFIM and touring the training mill, where the USW Board Team saw equipment sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates. (L to R): Al Klempel (Montana), Kent Lorens (Nebraska) and Casey Madsen (Wyoming).

Morocco and Tunisia. In April, USW hosted a delegation from Morocco and Tunisia focused on grain storage and management that was part of the USDA Cochran Fellowship Program traveling to Kansas and Texas. This program provides short-term training opportunities to agricultural professionals from middle-income countries, emerging markets, and emerging democracies. Read more about this delegation here.

The Cochran Fellowship Program delegation from Morocco and Tunisia stopped by the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center where they toured its greenhouse and research facilities. The team was escorted by USW Milling & Baking Technologist Tarik Gahi, pictured far right. (Photo Credit: Kansas Wheat)

Italy. USW Regional Marketing Director Rutger Koekoek recently visited Italy for several meetings with the grain trade, milling companies and a leading pasta processor to discuss the advantages of U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and durum crop quality and functional performance in products for the Italian market.

Wheat Research. USW recently worked with CGIAR to create a fact sheet and other support materials promoting the benefits of U.S. investment in global wheat research collaboration.


By Ben Conner, USW Vice President of Policy

Two weeks ago, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited President Trump in Washington, D.C., to help forge closer ties between the two largest countries in the Western Hemisphere. The joint statement published at the end of the visit highlighted several areas for cooperation and expanded commerce. One of those was a commitment to allow “the annual importation of 750 thousand tons of American wheat at zero rate.”

Of course, U.S. wheat farmers would be delighted if Brazilian buyers choose to import all 750,000 tons from the United States, though duty-free treatment mandated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) would apply to all imports from outside existing free trade agreements like Mercosur. Even with competition, annual average U.S. exports to Brazil are likely to increase substantially; and for this, U.S. farmers can thank the hard work of staff at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, members of Congress who pushed for this outcome, and officials in Brazil who recognized the benefits of closer trade ties with the United States and the importance of complying with WTO rules.

U.S. wheat farmers have long sought expanded commercial ties with Brazil, which is one of the world’s largest agricultural producers but also one of its largest wheat importers. The United States used to be Brazil’s primary wheat supplier, but it has since been supplanted by Argentina. This makes some sense, since duty-free treatment for Argentina and other Mercosur suppliers, coupled with a 10 percent external tariff, made U.S. wheat less competitive.

While Argentine dominance of Brazil’s imports will not be reversed with this new policy, U.S. farmers are hoping for a more stable relationship with their Brazilian customers. Tariffs prevented development of a consistent market in Brazil for a long time but, now with the tariff rate quota (TRQ) open, the opportunity is there for Brazil’s flour millers to consider U.S. wheat every year equally, instead of only after a poor South American wheat crop.

Now Brazil must take the final steps to implement the TRQ. No country has a perfect record of complying with WTO commitments, but U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is grateful to see President Bolsonaro taking Brazil in that direction on this issue so early in his presidency. Brazil and the United States have much in common as major agricultural exporters and we hope to see our countries to work together at the WTO to advance a trade liberalizing agenda while expanding the commercial relationship between our wheat sectors.

As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson often says, at any given hour of the day there is someone, somewhere, talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. Wheat Letter wants to share some of the ways USW was working the past few months to promote all six classes of U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world grain market.

Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In October, USW organized a Maghreb cake course, the first of its kind in Morocco, for quality and research and development participants representing biscuit and cake manufacturers in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The course focused on how to best utilize U.S. soft red winter (SRW) and soft white (SW) wheat and the use of solvent retention capacity (SRC) analysis to measure flour quality and functionality. A practical, hands-on session allowed participants to test different cake recipes with a variation of flour types and ingredients. Participants also were given an overview of biscuit, cake and wafer industrial production lines and discussed the importance of ingredient quality in minimizing breakdowns in a cake line.

Indonesia. The Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and USW Singapore Office conducted a week of hands-on wheat grading workshops for flour milling companies in Indonesia in mid-September. Barry Gomoll, Grain Marketing Specialist from FGIS’s International Affairs Division, traveled with Matt Weimar, USW Regional Vice President, to meet with more than 100 personnel from four major Indonesian milling companies. The workshops focused on an overview of FGIS and wheat grading procedures, as well as world and U.S. supply and demand, 2018 U.S. wheat quality and USW online resources.

South America. More than 450 participants from 30 countries, including Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, attended the 2018 Latin American Industrial Millers Association (ALIM) conference in Puerto Varas, Chile, Nov. 11 to 14. USW President Vince Peterson presented insight into the global wheat market situation and the current U.S. political situation, while Regional Director Miguel Galdós from the USW Santiago Office spoke on current trends in industrial bread production. Multiple USW staff, USW Vice Chairman Doug Goyings and representatives from the Kansas Wheat Commission and Washington Grain Commission also attended and took the opportunity to meet in person with many U.S. wheat customers.

Mexico. In October, USW Baking Consultant Didier Rosada traveled to Mexico City, Mexico, to conduct a baking seminar with one of Mexico’s largest bakeries. With assistance from USW Technical Consultant Marcelo Mitre, Rosada introduce nice different products and instructed the bakery on different uses of pre-ferments in an industrial environment. The pair also took the opportunity to visit a few smaller, artisan bakers, to learn more about the segment and help the customers troubleshoot various challenges.

Korea. USW Food/Bakery Technologist Shin Hak (David) Oh presented at a Whole Wheat Flour Seminar, hosted by Korean Master Bakers Association (KOMBA) and Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association (KOFMIA) for bakers in the Seoul area. Oh shared results of his recent research which focused on alternate flour blend formulations for baguettes using U.S. wheat to improve product quality at a competitive price.

Taiwan. In November, members of the USW staff and Washington Grain Commission representative Mike Carstensen attended the 56th anniversary celebration for the China Grain Products Research & Development Institute (CGPRDI) in Taipei. The celebration included the dedication of a new baking training center building and the 2018 Creative Chinese Fermentative Baking Contest, co-sponsored by CGPRDI and the USW Taipei Office. USW Specialist Dr. Ting Liu was invited to speak and gave a presentation on “Sprouted Wheat – A New Trend in Grain Products.” CGPRDI is a leader in training programs for baking and Chinese traditional food products as well as grain research, technical service and analysis in Taiwan. Carstensen and the USW team participated directly in each activity.

USW Transitions. Chad Weigand recently started his new position as Assistant Regional Director in Sub-Sahara Africa, based in Cape Town. Weigand joined USW in 2009 as Market Analyst before transferring to Mexico City as Assistant Regional Director, Mexican, Central American and Caribbean Region, in 2011. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and business administration from the University of San Diego and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University. Weigand spent two years in the Peace Corps as an agribusiness specialist in Ecuador and completed an internship with the Office of Trade Programs at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Current USW Market Analyst Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann will replace Weigand as Assistant Regional Director in Mexico City early in 2019. Claire Hutchins joined the export market development organization as Market Analyst Dec. 3, 2018, in the Arlington, Va. Headquarters Office.

Bryant-Erdmann joined USW as Programs Manager in 2014. She grew up working on her family’s Nebraska cattle ranch and earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree from Cornell University’s Institute for Public Affairs. She also had an internship at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Information Center where she helped create educational materials for U.S. organizations looking to export products and services.

Hutchins was raised on an irrigated wheat, soy and alfalfa farm in the high desert near Fruita, Colo. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chinese language, history and art history from the University of Pennsylvania, worked on small farms on the East Coast and recently completed a master’s program in agricultural economics at Utah State University. Hutchins also worked as a Government Affairs Intern at Syngenta’s Washington, D.C., office.


The highlights of Great Plains Wheat (GPW) activities promoting U.S. wheat in South America in marketing year 1976/77 included a baking seminar, equipment donations to the Chilean Milling School, translation of GPW’s “U.S. Wheat” bulletin into Spanish and the hiring of a new Grain Marketing Specialist named Alvaro de la Fuente by Regional Director Don Schultz in the Caracas, Venezuela, regional office. In 1978/79, this young Peruvian national moved to Santiago, Chile, which would be his base for the next 39 years, to serve with GPW Regional Director Robert Drynan. He was named Regional Director with the newly formed U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) by 1981.


Looking back on Alvaro de la Fuente’s long and successful career as he retires from USW as Regional Vice President, South America, is a study in how global wheat markets have changed. In 1977, there were no private wheat buyers in South America. Alvaro in fact came to GPW from a position with the government of Peru where he was responsible for purchases and imports of all bulk food commodities including wheat, managing an annual budget of US$380 million. Prior to that, he managed ocean freights for the same commodities.


That experience, along with his truly international upbringing as the child of parents in diplomatic service and his Louisiana State University bachelor’s degree in International Trade and Finance, were very valuable not only for his work with government wheat buyers, but also to successfully navigate the eventual shift to private wheat purchases in South America.


“That transition happened over the first 10 to 15 years of Alvaro’s career with U.S. Wheat Associates,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “The millers who had relied on the government now had to evaluate wheat quality, tender for the specifications they needed, arrange financing and shipping. Alvaro’s knowledge was ideal for the time and helped build a strong base of demand for U.S. wheat.”


Early on, most South American flour mills were relatively small and family owned, and Alvaro’s work was most welcome. But grain marketing skills were only one part of Alvaro’s success in the region. The value of his professional partnership along with his friendly, generous nature helped build beneficial customer relationships that endure to this day.


Alvaro can count among his many achievements helping to organize ALIM, the Latin American Industrial Millers Association in 1980. ALIM eventually granted Alvaro honorary membership in recognition of his founding efforts and contributions to the region’s milling industry. Over the years, he hired and helped train many of the colleagues who are now capably carrying on his work in the South American region and around the world.


“Everywhere I traveled with Alvaro, his customers always welcomed him as family,” Peterson said. “Alvaro and his lovely wife Betsy always did the same for colleagues, U.S. wheat farmers and state wheat commission representatives who were lucky enough to visit them and his team in Santiago. That personal warmth and the consistent results of his work, I think, will be Alvaro’s lasting example and legacy.”


All of us at U.S. Wheat Associates thank Alvaro for his work and friendship and wish him and his family a long and happy retirement.


Muchas gracias, Don Álvaro!




Almost 100 people from 16 countries participated in the 2018 edition of the biennial U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Latin American & Caribbean Buyers Conference July 18 to 20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Apprehension about a growing number of trade policy issues as the conference started was quickly replaced by enthusiasm for the abundance of opportunities available from the 2018 U.S. wheat harvest and USW’s tradition of service.


Change was the overall theme of this year’s conference and was apparent from the start with the introduction of the newest USW South American Region colleagues: Miguel Galdos as the next Regional Director and Andres Saturno in a new regional position as Technical Specialist. Regional Vice President Alvaro de la Fuente has announced plans to retire in October and USW recognized his 41 years of service at the conference.


USW President Vince Peterson added perspective to the theme with a presentation illustrating the changing dynamics of the global wheat trade and increased competitiveness from Russia and other non-traditional importers into the region. Mark Fowler, Vice President of Overseas Operations, then highlighted how expansion of technical service will increase value for our U.S. wheat customers in the Mexican, Central American and Caribbean region and in the South American region.


“The service we provide combines with the variety and quality of the six classes of U.S. wheat available to remain the best choice for our customers in Latin America,” said Fowler.  “As the market becomes more competitive and our customers strive to differentiate their products to their customers, our ability to provide the technical service and product development assistance becomes even more vital for them and the farmers we represent.”

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mark Fowler.


Galdos provided an overview of the Latin American and Caribbean baking industry while Marcelo Mitre, Technical Specialist, USW/ Mexico City, and Casey Chumrau, Marketing Manager, USW/Santiago, shared several examples of how technical support has benefitted USW buyers and wheat food processors. U.S. participants also provided a wide-ranging look at the supplies and quality of U.S. hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum during the conference.


Ambassador Rubens Barbosa (second from right), President of Abitrigo, the Brazilian Millers Association, was a guest speaker at the Latin American and Caribbean Buyers Conference.

Additional guest speakers included: Alejandro Daly, Executive President of ALIM, the Latin American Millers Association covering how labeling laws affect consumption; Ambassador Rubens Barbosa, President of Abitrigo, the Brazilian Millers Association, focusing on Brazil’s wheat production and national policies; Irineu J. Pedrollo, Owner of I&MP Consulting Associates, presenting on the experiences of a U.S. wheat buyer; Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Arizona State University, presenting on the nutritional challenges of a gluten-free diet; and Mara Isabel Perdomo, Broker Manager Director with Marita Freight and Trade, speaking on freight market dynamics.


In addition to the wheat buyers from milling companies at the conference, U.S. wheat producers from seven states either attended or provided financial support for the conference. USW thanks the Idaho Wheat Commission, the Oregon Wheat Commission and the Washington Grain Commission for their sponsorship and participants from the California Wheat Commission, Kansas Wheat Commission, Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, North Dakota Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Wheat Commission for their support to make the conference a continued success. Additional funding was provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.


“It’s significant that the conference was held in Brazil this year because Brazil is one the world’s leading wheat importers,” said Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin in a report on the conference by Kansas Wheat.


Dr. Romulo Lollato, Extension Wheat Specialist at Kansas State University, spoke on “The Role of Agricultural Extension on Wheat Quality: A Case Study for Hard Red Winter.”


According to Gilpin, Lollato was able to communicate to buyers about what Kansas wheat farmers are putting into their crops for both management and quality.


“Buyers have a better understanding of what goes into wheat production and management for quality,” Gilpin said. “This will help differentiate U.S. hard red winter in a competitive marketplace.”


Kansas Wheat Vice President of Research and Operations Aaron Harries saw the conference as an opportunity for customers to meet U.S. growers and discuss wheat productio

USW Chairman and wheat grower Chris Kolstad.

n and the business of farming, and for growers to show their appreciation to buyers and millers who buy their crops. In fact, USW Chairman Chris Kolstad, a wheat farmer from Ledger, Mont., covered “The Economics of Growing Wheat” at the conference.

“I hope that the buyers and attendees appreciate the transparency we show,” Harries said. “We fully disclose information about the crop, even in years when our wheat crop isn’t that good. I hope they come away from the conference knowing that if they seek any information or expertise, as sellers we have that readily available for them.”


USW has posted presentations from the 2018 Latin American, Caribbean and South American Buyers Conference on its website here: