Some have a basic understanding of the flour milling process. Some have absolutely no idea how wheat from a farm ends up as flour destined for a baker’s oven.

Regardless of their experience, farmers and State Wheat Commission staffers who gathered in Manhattan, Kansas, this week share a common destiny.

“Everybody is going to learn something,” said Shawn Thiele, who led the three-day flour milling course presented by the IGP Institute and Kansas State University (KSU). “From those who have experience with wheat and flour to those who’ve never stepped foot in a flour mill, the course is designed as a thorough look at the action of turning wheat into flour – step-by-step and step-by-step.”

Here is a short video from the first day of the three-day course:

Conducted at IGP and on the KSU campus, the Dec. 13 to 15 training – considered a “deep dive” into flour milling – is a condensed short course specifically built for producers who sit on the boards of state wheat organizations, as well as people who work for those organizations. Representatives from Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma and Oregon were involved in the course. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) staffers Peter Laudeman and Ralph Loos also took part.

“It is kind of amazing when you come to know what you didn’t know,” Martin Kerschen, a wheat farmer, a Kansas Wheat Commissioner and one of the students in the IGP-KSU flour milling class, said. “It’s clear how important details are when taking our wheat and turning it into something bakeries and consumers on the other side of the world really want and appreciate.”

In a flour milling lab at Kansas State University, USW's Mark Fowler and Kansas Farmer Martin Kerschen discuss the variety of flour products resulting from the milling process.

In a flour milling lab at Kansas State University, USW’s Mark Fowler and Kansas Farmer Martin Kerschen discuss the variety of flour products resulting from the milling process.

Hands-On Learning

The course included classroom trainings on wheat quality, global competition facing U.S. farmers, wheat cleaning and conditioning, and an overview of the mechanics of wheat milling. Participants also milled wheat during a hands-on laboratory workshop and later toured the KSU Hal Ross Four Mill.

USW Vice President of Global Technical Services Mark Fowler, an experienced flour milling instructor, also gave a presentation on the role quality plays in the global wheat market.

“USW finds a lot of value in these IGP-KSU courses because it provides producers and others we work with in the wheat industry insight into the relationship between wheat quality and flour performance,” Fowler said. “It gives growers a new perspective on what international customers look for in quality flour.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helping a Mexican Baker Expand Sales

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

U.S. Wheat consultant Didier Rosada

Didier Rosada

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

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

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

Healthier Wheat Foods for Older Taiwanese Consumers

Chinese wheat foods seminar

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

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

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

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

Continuing Milling Education Interrupted by COVID in Korea

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

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

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

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

U.S. Soft Wheat Best for Cookies, Cakes

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

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

Read more here about the South African wheat market.


In an example of USW’s commitment to service, it has combined knowledge with experience to extend the shelf life of bakery products. Headline photo: USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung leading a bread baking course at the UFM Baking and Cooking School in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo courtesy of UFM)

Expanding the window of time breads and cakes remain fresh would help retailers, food distributors and bakers around the world broaden their customer bases and grow their businesses. It would also benefit the U.S. wheat industry, which provides a key ingredient for baked goods in international markets.

But can the window really be expanded? U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes it can.

In an example of USW’s commitment to service, the organization’s technical staff and consultants have combined knowledge with experience to extend the shelf life of bakery products. USW has “explored all possibilities” to develop processes and procedures that result in products remaining fresh for days – even weeks – longer than current standards.

Eager to Share the Knowledge

USW, which plans to conduct educational courses late next year or early in 2024 to share what it has learned on the topic, is confident its classrooms will be full.

Most of USW’s work on extending shelf life has been conducted in Southeast Asia, but the lessons learned apply to every bakery across the globe.

“In Southeast Asia, a typical shelf life of bread is seven days, and the maximum shelf life is about 10 days,” explained USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung, who is based in Singapore. “For large bakeries and food distributors, extending it beyond that 10 days would mean they could sell baked goods in towns and villages farther away from their manufacturing base. Retail markets would benefit. Consumers would benefit. Everyone up and down the supply chain would benefit, too.”

USW is planning to conduct educational courses to share what it has learned about extending the shelf life of baked goods.

USW is planning to conduct educational courses to share what it has learned about extending the shelf life of bread and other baked goods. Lessons taught in the courses will apply to bakeries in every region of the world.

The ‘Squeeze Test’

Shelf life is defined as “the time during which a freshly-manufactured product remains acceptable to the consumer.”  Of course, consumers in each region have different tastes and preferences, but the main goal of extending shelf life is universal: The product must pass the “squeeze test.”

The test plays out every day, in every grocery or supermarket. A shopper eases up to a bakery shelf, positions a hand over an unsuspecting loaf of bread and gently squeezes in order to judge the freshness of a prospective purchase.

USW’s work aims to help more loaves and baked goods pass the squeeze test long after leaving a baker’s oven. The result would be more consumers in more places having the ability to purchase the products. That in turn creates more demand for U.S. wheat.

Enemies of Shelf Life

According to Chung, the two major factors that lead to failure in extending shelf life are mold and staling.

“These are separate issues that must be tackled separately, and those are the things we have been working on,” he said. “The mold problem involves things like sanitation, moisture, temperature, relative humidity, water activity and the use of preservatives. The staling problem involves formulation and ingredients selection.”

Tools and formulas in the effort are many, including natural gums and enzymes, sugars and fats, and chemical additives and alternatives to chemical additives. Packaging innovations are being addressed, too, such as packing bread and other baked goods in airtight plastic under a modified atmosphere.

The tools and formulas used are designed to match consumer preferences.

For example, the European market is less accepting of additives. The typical shelf life of a loaf of bread was traditionally one day, but now is 2 to 3 days.

“This is achieved either by using very high-quality wheat such as hard red winter (HRW) or hard red spring (HRS), which have a slower rate of natural staling than some lower-cost wheats,” Peter Lloyd, USW Regional Technical Manager based in Morocco, said. “Our efforts in the European Union and Middle East regions also promotes the use of HRS wheat in bread as a way of getting to cleaner labeling (less additives), a growing issue in that part of the world.”

Longer Shelf Life, Cleaner Labels

The various requirements and preferences in different countries and regions makes the USW effort to extend shelf life of breads and baked goods an ideal subject for baker education.

And a perfect topic for USW’s planned training course and technical support for its overseas customers.

“There are many details involved in achieving the ultimate goal of reaching more consumers with quality bakery products made with U.S. wheat,” said Chung. “We are planning to offer a course that addresses all those details, and from the conversations we have had, there is tremendous interest everywhere.”


Citing economic challenges and lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, World Grain magazine recently suggested to the world’s flour millers that adapting to these challenges requires closer collaboration and more frequent communication with suppliers and partners. In these uncertain times, the people and resources of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) stand ready to be that supportive partner.

USW works on behalf of dependable U.S. wheat producers to help millers and other wheat buyers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six classes of U.S. wheat. This is so important because the U.S. grain marketing system is reliable and transparent but can be complicated. So, USW keeps customers informed about crop quality and prices — an effort that includes risk management and technical education, market analysis, and in-country demand creation.

Contact Your Local USW Office

Flour millers and other wheat buyers will be well served by making their local USW office their first point of contact. Our experienced staff and consultants are prepared to help buyers before, during and after the sale, with service that enhances U.S. wheat value. Find the nearest USW office here.

A team of Colombian flour millers on a trade team visit to High Line Grain

Supply Chain Lessons. In 2022, a team of flour millers from Colombia visited High Line Grain in Washington state to gain a better understanding of what it takes to move U.S. wheat to export locations. Photo by Lori Maricle, Washington Grain Commission.

Working directly with overseas buyers to answer questions and resolve issues in purchasing, shipping or using U.S. wheat, USW also sponsors trade delegations to the United States, regular crop and market condition updates, quality surveys and other activities.

Regular Market Reports

USW regularly gathers and analyzes relevant market data. USW shares information with flour millers and other buyers on trade policy, wheat grade standards or specifications that may affect price and future wheat production, trade and consumption projections. This information is available from local USW representatives and regular published reports covering:

Export Technical Support

2022 Taiwan bakery trade show exhibit by USW to educate flour millers and bakers

Quality Update. USW Country Director Bo Yuan Chen describes the source of U.S. wheat quality to visitors to a USW exhibit at a 2022 Taipei baking industry trade show.

To help strengthen the technical efficiency of flour milling, storage, handling and end-product industries, USW sponsors participation in webinars, technical courses, workshops and in-person seminars. Other activities include personalized consulting in milling, baking, snack food and pasta production as well as grain storage and handling.

USW also works with customers and other U.S. grain industry partners to expand consumer awareness and appreciation for wheat foods, including nutritional information through webinars, in-person seminars, consumer demonstrations, trade shows and promotional campaign support.

USW’s work is supported by 17 state wheat commissions and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Private U.S. wheat exporters also have representatives worldwide, so flour millers will also want to contact them for additional information.

Other important resources include:

  • Agricultural Attaché and Counselors: The U.S. agricultural attaché and/or agricultural counselors are in the American Embassy or in the Agricultural Trade Office (ATO). Find the nearest U.S. Embassy or ATO.
  • NAEGA Trade Lead Form:  Many companies and cooperatives that supply U.S. wheat belong to the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA).
  • Registered Grain Exporter Directory: The USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service maintains a list of registered exporters on its website.

Please visit for more information. Photo above of a Japanese flour miller trade team at the Washington Grain Commission office in Spokane, Wash., by Lori Maricle.



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 just some of the ways USW was working in June and July to promote all six classes of U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world grain market.

USW Beijing Builds Online Resources

Pandemic restrictions to movement and gatherings continue in the People’s Republic of China and have compelled a greater reliance on remote delivery systems. USW Beijing now offers a suite of regular programming made up of translations from the USW Price Report, Crop Updates and our monthly Supply and Demand presentations. By adapting as many materials as possible to deliver remotely or online, USW Beijing is able to keep USW technical support, trade service, and U.S. wheat quality information flowing to China’s flour millers

USW Seoul Sent Noodle Makers to Wheat Marketing Center

In June, USW Seoul conducted a Noodle Flour Development Short Course with the expert staff at the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Ore. The team included noodle processors and milling quality specialists from Korea. They made 34 distinct types of general ramen and non-fried ramen noodles using various blends of U.S. wheat and Australian wheat flour. As a result of the general ramen test, these customers concluded that U.S. flour could be increased in a blend with Australian flour and maintain acceptable appearance and texture. In addition, the course participants identified that adding U.S. hard red spring (HRS) flour improved the hardness of stir-type noodles.

A team of Korean noodle experts produce ramen noodlesmade with U.S. wheat flour at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Oregon.

Better Wheat…Better Ramen. USW and the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) held a Noodle Workshop for Korean manufacturers in June to test several blends of U.S. wheat flour for ramen noodle production. Here the participants are observing ramen on the WMC pilot production line.

USW Mexico City Technical Support

USW Mexico City Director of Technical Services Marcelo Mitre and consultant Juan Manuel Tiznado conducted a cookie seminar in June for processing staff at a large Mexican manufacturing plant. The seminar helped demonstrate improvements in processing and end-product quality, including improved outcomes using U.S. soft red winter (SRW) and soft white (SW) wheat flour. Mitre and Tiznado identified several modifications, and they will continue working with the manufacturer to monitor progress and the customer’s satisfaction with those improvements.

Chung and Goh Teach Baking

In July, USW Singapore held the 42nd Baking Science and Technology Course (BSTC) in conjunction with the UFM Baking and Cooking School in Bangkok, Thailand. Noted USW Bakery Consultant Roy Chung and USW Biscuit/Bakery and Noodle Technologist Ivan Goh were the principal lecturers. This six-week course features ingredient functionality, bread and cake processing, and sections on flour specification and quality evaluation. USW Manila Baking Technician Ady Redondo participated in the course and received the second highest overall score among 19 students. Those participants now understand more about how U.S. wheat classes provide superior functionality for the most popular wheat-based foods in their markets.

USW Santiago Brings U.S. Harvest to Customers

A benefit to both USW and its customers from pandemic travel restrictions is the ability to reach a lot more customers in a single online activity. In June, USW Santiago was able to share a detailed, up-to-date look at the 2022/23 U.S. hard red winter (HRW) and SRW crops then being harvested to 138 customers from 85 different companies in the South American region. Justin Gilpin, CEO, Kansas Wheat Commission reported on the progress and quality of the HRW crop while wheat farmer and a past USW Chairman Jason Scott representing the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board gave the SRW update. USW Santiago reports that there was active participation in the question-and-answer session and that those customers now have added confidence that these crops will offer excellent flour and functional characteristics. Read more about the current U.S. wheat harvest and by-class quality in the USW Harvest Report here.

The Oklahoma Wheat Commission, USW and members of a trade team from Ecuador and Peru observing U.S. wheat production participate in a trade agreement signing ceremony.

Ecuador and Peru Team in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Wheat Commission (OWC) recently hosted members of a wheat industry trade team from Ecuador and Peru touring wheat handling and processing facilities. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and OWC held a ceremonial wheat trade signing with the team and USW, represented by USW Santiago Technical Manager Andrés Saturno (seated). Oklahoma State Secretary of Agriculture Ms. Blayne Arthur (seated) greeted the team. Hear more as Ron Hays with Oklahoma Farm Report interviews team members at

USW activities are made possible through export market development programs administered by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.


In the increasingly competitive global wheat market, it is important to review the advantages that U.S. wheat delivers to millers and bakers. This post examines the advantages that hard white wheat brings to the market.

Hard white (HW) wheat is the smallest class of wheat grown in the United States, with an annual average production over the last five years of 822,413 metric tons (MMT), about 30.2 million bushels. U.S. HW is the newest wheat class and has developed a strong niche for whole wheat flour products in the U.S. domestic market. In addition, HW varieties are bred to yield flour for both bread and Asian noodles.

The strong demand for a specific use and the relatively small production has created a market where most HW is grown under contract with domestic U.S. milling companies to assure quality standards and provide a premium price incentive to farmers. It is also important to mention that HW wheat includes winter and spring varieties, increasing the protein range and functionality within the class.

Milling Advantages

U.S. hard white wheat performs in the mill much like hard red winter (HRW) wheat. The most apparent HW benefit is higher extraction levels of whiter flour due to its lighter bran color. Higher extraction rates generally improve flour water absorption, benefiting the baker. HW is a true hard wheat creating an advantageous granulation in the primary breaks for the production of coarse semolina, increasing the production of low ash flour.

Baking and Processing Advantages

The most significant advantage of hard white wheat is the quality of baked products made from hard white wheat flour. As mentioned, one of the primary uses of hard white flour in the U.S. baking industry is for whole wheat products. By using ultra-fine white whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread can be produced with the color and texture of traditional bread. This has created a large demand for white whole wheat flour in school lunch programs and other products promoting the health benefits of whole wheat flour and its acceptable taste to children.

Another advantage of HW wheat flour is its low polyphenol oxidase (PPO) content. PPO is an enzyme that can cause the browning of dough. Lower PPO content improves the color of wet noodles and Asian steamed bread products. The starch-pasting characteristics of some HW varieties, as measured by amylograph values, are also an essential trait for noodle production. High peak viscosity is associated with desirable texture characteristics in noodles.

Sourcing Challenges

With all the advantages of HW to the milling and baking industry, the market has challenges in determining its value. Most hard white wheat is grown under production contracts by U.S. milling companies. It is also grown predominantly in the Great Plains, adding to the challenge of marketing HW to Asian customers sourcing wheat off the West Coast. The small size of the HW planted acres creates challenges for a volume-based grain handling system. The need to segregate HW from HRW or hard red spring (HRS) wheat adds cost to the elevators due to the time required to clean equipment and bins. It can also be difficult to accumulate enough quantity to fill a ship hold or a complete unit train. These challenges require creativity and flexibility from both the buyer and seller, who must work together to pull HW wheat through the market and encourage the wheat producer to increase HW wheat planted acres.

U.S. Wheat Advantages

As we highlight each specific class in this series, let us not forget the advantages that all U.S. wheat classes bring to the market. First, and perhaps the most important, is consistency in quality and supply. Although each new crop year brings different challenges and opportunities, U.S. wheat is always available to the global market. Second, U.S. wheat delivers variety. Wheat is a raw material manufactured into a bakery ingredient, flour. The flour made from each unique class of U.S. wheat brings value to the market in the unique quality characteristics to make a variety of baked goods and noodles. It is also important to understand the value of blending flour from one or more types of wheat to optimize the flour performance at a minimal cost.

Each region, country, and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique wheat classes, the United States has the right wheat class to deliver the optimal quality and value for every variety of product on the market.

Learn more about the six classes of U.S. wheat here or leave a question in the U.S. Wheat Associates’ “Ask The Expert” section.

By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

Read more about other U.S. wheat classes in this series.

Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Soft White
Soft Red Winter


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

Located in the Kansas State University (KSU) Grain Science Complex, the IGP Institute offers innovative technical training courses and workshops to enhance market preference, consumption, and utilization of U.S. cereal grains and oilseeds and their value-added products. On-campus, on-location, and virtual education courses are led by KSU faculty and industry professionals in the areas of flour milling and grain processing, grain marketing and risk management, and feed manufacturing and grain quality management.

Adding Value

IGP’s mission is to demonstrate that U.S. grains offer a competitive advantage over other suppliers, especially regarding quality and consistency. IGP is focused on providing technical leadership in milling, baking, and grain storage for the wheat industry.

Shawn Thiele, IGP Associate Director and Flour Milling and Grain Processing Curriculum Manager, says that hands-on training is where participants maximize their experience, which is why IGP prioritizes scheduling a majority of course time for hands-on training or field visits outside of the classroom. IGP partners with the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) and Buhler to host many of the grain processing and flour milling courses that focus on everything wheat and milling related, from wheat selection and storage, flour blending and quality control to end-use products and mill optimization and maintenance.

“We have a range of courses from an introduction to flour milling, which is geared towards non-millers working in the milling industry, to basic and advanced milling courses,” said Thiele. “Our goal is to showcase the importance of wheat quality and train participants on how to optimize the milling process to maximize extraction and quality of the U.S. wheat. Through each of these courses, we discuss all six classes of U.S. wheat, how their different characteristics translate into different milling practices, and how to optimize each to extract its full value and quality.”

In its grain marketing curriculum, led by Guy H. Allen, Senior Agricultural Economist and Grain Marketing and Risk Management Curriculum Manager, IGP offers courses beneficial for commodity traders, bankers, and individuals responsible for buying U.S. food and feed grains. The grain procurement and purchasing course focuses on the mechanics of purchasing raw materials and features detailed discussions of cash and futures markets, contracts, and ocean transportation. The risk management course focuses on the principles of risk management and commodity price control through hedging principles and using various hedging strategies. Allen is also working on new educational opportunities featuring grain supply chain field trips throughout the United States and applied agricultural sales training focused on professional sales and marketing for agriculture and related industries.

IGP also provides training on proper grain storage and handling techniques taught by Carlos Campabadal, Feed Manufacturing and Grain Quality Management Curriculum Manager and Spanish Outreach Coordinator. Campabadal has extensive international feed manufacturing experience and travels worldwide, providing assistance and education for grain handling, storage, and feed manufacturing challenges in developing countries.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

The IGP Institute Conference Center offers multiple technology-enabled classrooms, dining facilities, a grain grading lab that meets USDA standards, and a large auditorium featuring simultaneous language translation capabilities. The complex is also home to the commercial-scale Hal Ross Flour Mill, O.H. Kruse Feed Technology and Innovation Center, the Bio-processing and Industrial Value-Added Products (BIAVP) Innovation Center, and laboratories for flour and dough testing and baking. As part of the KSU Department of Grain Science and Industry, the IGP Institute leverages the department’s unique diversity of resources.

“To meet our mission, we have many value-added tools and multi-disciplinary faculty to aid our focus on technical assistance, including millers, bakers, feed scientists, food scientists, grain storage specialists, and economists,” said Thiele. “We also utilize resources from the industry, as needed, to ensure top experts are teaching the respective material.”

Located in the heart of hard red winter (HRW) wheat country, IGP’s proximity to the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, wheat farmers, grain elevators, commercial flour and feed mills, commercial bakeries, USDA-ARS, and the Federal Grain Inspection Service all allow course participants to experience and learn from the full spectrum of the wheat supply chain.

Thiele adds that IGP’s partnerships help make its programming successful.

“U.S. Wheat Associates, the Kansas Wheat Commission, and other supporting commodity organizations are critical to what we do,” said Thiele. “In addition to financial support, the value of our relationship with industry partners and the donation of their time and materials is difficult to quantify.”

Every year, USW sponsors international customers to attend IGP courses focused on grain purchasing and flour milling. In 2022, IGP hosted USW technical staff for a core competency training session and is planning on hosting a USW advanced flour milling course for South Korean millers utilizing U.S. wheat.

USW Core Technical Training at the IGP Institute 2022

Technical Training. USW technical staff visited the IGP Institute in March 2022 for a core competency training session.

“IGP provides a good learning environment and experienced instructors that help millers lay a solid foundation for milling U.S. wheat,” said Boyuan Chen, USW Country Director for Taiwan.

Past course participants agree.

“The program helped us improve our flour milling operations,” said Vangala Ravindra from Pure Flour Mills in Nigeria. “We understand the different U.S. wheat variety characteristics, their end-uses, and impact on milling extraction and flour quality.”

Nestor Morales, from Gold Mills in Panama, attended an IGP grain purchasing course last month and is already beginning to implement what he learned.

“The staff at IGP was phenomenal. I now have a very good impression of the quality assurance that exists in the entire U.S. wheat value chain,” said Morales. “This course has the potential of improving our buying practices and better understanding the market in greater detail.”

IGP continues to look for ways to better reach U.S. wheat customers by working with industry partners and educational resources to expand on virtual and on-location training options. Recently, IGP has expanded its curriculum by adding new courses focused on the science of baking. These feature hands-on training and are taught by grain science department faculty with years of commercial baking industry experience.

Thiele said that IGP is expanding those opportunities by using innovative and engaging virtual learning platforms to record key topics that are typically only offered on-site. These new training lectures and courses will build on IGP’s virtual and on-demand training options.

“Our goal is that these tools are the first step toward customers saying, ‘wow, this is something that I need to invest more in,'” said Thiele. “At the end of the day, the biggest benefit is being in person at IGP to get the full experience and build long-lasting relationships. Nothing can replace that face-to-face interaction.”

Learn more about the IGP Institute and its programming and services at

By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications

Read about other USW educational partners in this series:

Northern Crops Institute Continues Tradition of Adding Value to U.S. Spring Wheat and Durum
Wheat Marketing Center Creates Educational Bridge Between U.S. Wheat Farmers And Customers
Wheat Foods Council Is A Leading Source Of Science-Based Wheat Foods Information


Name: Wei-lin Chou

Title: Asian Products and Nutrition Specialist

Office: USW Taipei Office

Providing Service to: Taiwan

Wei-lin Chou will tell you that wheat is the most fascinating food ingredient in the world, but his fascination with food science first started with starches.

“In elementary school, my science teacher showed us an iodine–starch test. In the lab, he dropped iodine reagent on bread and rice. The iodine reagent changed color from brown to purple-blue,” said Chou. “I was so excited about the color changes. I still remember after that class, I started asking many questions about starch and eventually concluded that almost all the foods I love contain starches.”

Life Lessons

Chou grew up in what he says was an ordinary family in New Taipei City, Taiwan. His district, Shulin, translates to “forest” in Mandarin and is famous for red yeast rice and red rice liqueur that is fermented using spores known as “monascus.” This healthy ingredient provides a natural red color and several nutritional functions to various fermented foods. Despite so many childhood memories tied to food, Chou’s parents did not work in the food industry, but his family has strongly influenced how he views the world around him.

“My parents taught me to treat others with honesty and kindness, always feel grateful and cherish the things we have and harm neither others nor our environment,” said Chou. “They taught my sister and me these lessons by living their own lives this way, so my family has really shaped who I am.”

Wei-lin Chou as a kid with his family

Wei-lin Chou as a kid with his family.

These lessons carried Chou to National Taiwan University (NTU), where he started studying in the nursing department before transitioning to agriculture chemistry. While some might think that is an unusual route to a career in the food industry, Chou believes his experience starting in nursing has helped him further his career.

“Nursing is a career devoted to a human being’s whole life from birth to death, and food is the same. We cannot live without food,” said Chou. “I learned a lot about patience, empathy, respect, communication, and trust-building from nurses. I also learned more about people and their needs at various ages and health situations, whether physical or mental. It now influences the way I support and provide service to customers.”

Building a Career

Once Chou transferred to the agriculture chemistry department, he majored in his true interest – food science. That is where he met his mentor, Dr. Hsi-mei Lai, who emphasized understanding the principles behind testing methods and food processing steps students were applying in their coursework. Chou said he learned from her that collaboration – teaching and sharing with fellow students was the best way to learn. Dr. Lai also regularly took her students to visit food industries and factories, where Chou first experienced interacting with customers and working with them to solve problems.

Wei-lin Chou with member Dr. Hsi-mei Lai

Wei-lin Chou (third from left) is pictured with his mentor, Dr. Hsi-mei Lai (second from left), who took her student out to visit and interact with food industry customers.

Wei-lin Chou teaching at National Taiwan University

Wei-lin Chou (right) taught gluten qualities to NTU’s Agriculture Chemistry department undergraduate students through the most basic hand washing method in the Food Analysis Lab course.

In addition to earning a bachelor’s and master’s in agriculture chemistry, which included a thesis on rice flour properties and applications, Chou received a scholarship from the Ting Hsin International Group to support his post-graduate work.

After graduating, Chou’s first job was as a research and development assistant at Taiwan’s China Grain Products Research and Development Institute (CGPRDI). Established in 1962, CGPRDI is a historic vocational training, research, and development center for several grain and food products that U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has supported since 1964 through its legacy organizations.

Wei-lin Chou research with CGPRDI and USW

The USW Taipei Office cooperated with CGPRDI to research what types of bread were suitable for Taiwan’s aging population. Wei-lin Chou produced the bread samples for sensory evaluation in 2020.

“As a fresh graduate, CGPRDI was the most suitable place to put what I had learned to work. Since rice is the major crop in Taiwan, I extended rice flour and starch research to various food applications in CGPRDI,” said Chou. “This work fortified my knowledge of flour and starch and expanded my point of view about the food industry and mass production.”

Next, Chou worked as a technical sales representative for STARPRO Starch Co., reconnecting with the company that provided him with the scholarship in graduate school.

“I love to have adventures and try new things. This was my first time living and working in a foreign country, first in China for a few months and then Thailand for three and a half years,” said Chou.

Wei-lin Chou in a tapioca field when working in STARPRO

Wei-lin Chou in a tapioca field when he worked at STARPRO Starch Co.

This work took Chou to several new places, primarily focused on providing service to customers in Japan, Southeast Asia, and Europe. He recalls what he learned from the occasional culture shock and how to communicate better and find common ground with his customers.

“I gained a lot from customers with different views that I might have otherwise ignored,” said Chou. “The international experience also taught me to respect differences and that we cannot judge things only from one aspect.”

Working with Wheat

When Chou heard about the opening in the USW Taipei Office, he said he submitted his resume without any hesitation. It was a new opportunity to work with a food ingredient that fascinated him.

“It is distinctive that U.S. wheat has developed six wheat classes for the various wheat products created,” said Chou. “For me, each wheat product is like a harmonious symphony composed of starches and glutens, so beautiful and kaleidoscopic.”

Unfortunately, Chou started with USW in 2020 after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited travel and in-person activities. Still, Chou has engaged in important research to support a developed market where demand for healthy wheat food products is increasing, especially in schools and Taiwan’s aging population.

Wei-lin Chou SRC testing

Wei-lin Chou conducting a series of solvent retention capacity (SRC) tests in 2021.

“To attempt servicing an advanced market like Taiwan, we need to stay abreast of the latest research in wheat processing and food science, or indeed, to undertake it ourselves. Wei-lin’s background gives him the technical tools to ask the right questions, interpret what is out there for our customers, and make original contributions,” said Jeff Coey, USW Regional Vice President for China and Taiwan. “The work is never done, so to bring younger talent into our wheat world is the future of our program.”

While the pandemic has created limitations, Chou has still been able to make meaningful connections with customers.

“As with my previous work, I really enjoy interacting with customers. After our 2021 Crop Quality Seminars [a hybrid event with pre-recorded videos], many local millers, cooperators, and customers contacted me wanting to learn more about starch and pasting properties,” said Chou. “It felt great to be able to provide that technical support and help build on their needs step by step.”

USW staff at core competency training

USW staff at a core competency training in 2022. (L to R) Ady Redondo, USW Manila; David Oh, USW Seoul; Roy Chung, USW Singapore; Mark Fowler, USW Headquarters; Marcelo Mitre, USW Mexico City; Joe Bippert, USW Manila; and Wei-lin Chou, USW Taipei.

Chou has also connected with many of his USW colleagues from around the world who were able to gather in March 2022 in the United States for internal training focused on key core competencies.

“USW has so many awesome technical experts with specialties in milling, baking, and more,” said Chou. “It was so nice to get acquainted with so many colleagues and cooperators. They are all passionate about their work and happy to share their experiences. I enjoy working and interacting with these dependable people.”

Seeking Harmony

In all aspects of his life, Chou is drawn to the things that bring him a sense of harmony and the things that fascinate him, like the colors from the iodine-starch test and the versatility of wheat as a food ingredient. He sees a synergy between those things and his love for music which he says continues to teach him about teamwork and what brings people together.

Wei-lin Chou in his high school marching band

Wei-lin Chou was a percussionist in his high school marching band.

“I grew up playing in my high school marching band, and that is a group where every member is important and must be fully coordinated. If any member fails in the performance, the music and the formation will be a mess. The team members need to help each other and grow together,” said Chou. “Everyone sometimes needs to sacrifice a little bit to achieve a greater goal. We, technologists, do the same—we are the bridge that connects customers and suppliers to U.S. wheat. That is what makes U.S. wheat so reliable.”

By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the tenth 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


In the increasingly competitive global wheat market, it is important to review the advantages that U.S. wheat delivers to millers and bakers. This post examines the advantages that durum wheat brings to the market.

Durum is the pasta wheat and the fifth-largest class of wheat grown in the United States with an annual average production over the last five years of 1.6 million metric tons (MMT), or about 58.79 million bushels. In part because of regional economies of scale, U.S. imports of durum at a 5-year average are 1.18 million metric tons (MMT). In comparison, export volume at a 5-year average is slightly less than 680 thousand metric tons (TMT).

Northern durum is grown in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana and primarily exported through the Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway or the Gulf. Desert Durum® is a registered certification mark owned by the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council and the California Wheat Commission. These groups authorize using the mark only for designated durum grain produced under irrigation in Arizona and California’s desert valleys and lowlands. Desert Durum® is exported from the Gulf or the West Coast.

Image shows long goods pasta production in a commercial plant.

The finest quality pasta is produced from U.S. durum grown in the northern Plains and in the southwest as Desert Durum®.

Milling Advantages

U.S. durum is competitive mostly with Canadian durum in the global market. U.S. durum is represented by three subclasses controlling for hard, vitreous kernel (HVK) content. Subclass options include Hard Amber Durum (HAD) with more than 75% vitreous kernels; Amber Durum with 60% to 74% vitreous kernels; and Durum with less than 60% vitreous kernels. Higher HVK values yield a larger quantity of semolina. U.S. durum has a large kernel size, allowing millers to benefit from higher extraction rates.

Desert Durum® is harvested and shipped at a very low moisture content. This advantage to millers contributes to efficient transportation costs and high extraction rates. It also allows them to add significantly more water during the tempering and conditioning phase of processing.

Product Advantages

The finest quality pasta is the primary product made from U.S. durum –  long goods, short goods, pasta of all shapes and sizes. Other products made from durum include couscous and some varieties of traditional Mediterranean semolina bread. In all durum food products, one quality factor is the most critical to the consumer – color. In its purest form, pasta is water and durum semolina. Couscous is large semolina boiled and eaten as an alternative to rice. In both products, consumers prefer a bright yellow, translucent appearance that U.S. durum delivers because of its higher HVK level. The higher HVK also allows the miller to provide a more uniform, consistent semolina to the pasta process, thus improving production efficiencies and color.

Image shows couscous made from durum wheat

Couscous is produced with durum wheat.

Sourcing Opportunities

Like some other classes of wheat, U.S. durum planted area is declining. Proactively working with producers and suppliers is the best way to assure ample supply to the market. Desert Durum® can be produced and delivered “identity-preserved” to domestic and export markets, which allows customers to purchase grain of varieties possessing quality traits specific to their needs. Annual production requirements can be pre-contracted with grain merchandisers ahead of the fall-winter planting season for harvest from late May to early July. Varietal identity is maintained by experienced growers planting certified seed and merchandisers who store and ship according to customers’ preferred delivery schedules.

Northern durum is competitively sourced by U.S. pasta producers in the Midwest and northern states. Export customers must be proactive when working with suppliers to obtain the best quality available, such as HAD.

U.S. Wheat Advantages

As we highlight each specific class in this series, let us not forget the advantages that all U.S. wheat classes bring to the market. First, and perhaps the most important, is consistency in quality and consistency of supply. Although each new crop year brings different challenges and opportunities, U.S. wheat is always available to the global market. Second, U.S. wheat delivers variety. Wheat is a raw material manufactured into a bakery ingredient: flour. The flour made from each class of U.S. wheat brings value to the market through specific quality characteristics that make a variety of baked goods and noodles. Further, blending flours from one or more types of wheat is an important component for customers to understand as part of optimizing flour performance at a minimal cost.

Each region, country, and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique wheat classes, the United States has the right wheat class to deliver the optimal quality and value for every variety of product on the market.

Learn more about the six classes of U.S. wheat here or leave a question in our “Ask The Expert” section.

By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

Read more about other U.S. wheat classes in this series.

Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter


A recently released econometric study confirmed that two export market development programs administered by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) benefit wheat farmers, their overseas customers and the general U.S. economy.

“Four studies since 2007 using various econometric models have all shown the same bottom line result – export market development programs work for American agricultural producers,” said Robbie Minnich, Chair of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports and Senior Government Relations Representative with the National Cotton Council. “Without question, the economic benefits they return far exceed the investment made.”

Cover of USDA FAS Export Market Development yearbook for 2021.

Learn more about USDA export market development here.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) participates in the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program on an annual basis. These programs are apportioned by law in the U.S. federal budget. They are public-private partnerships between USDA and organizations like USW and 17 state wheat commission members that help fund its activities. Across all the participating organizations, private contributions to the programs represented more than 70% of total funding in recent years.

Wheat Trade

Wheat is the most trade-dependent of the major food and feed crops grown in the United States. But individual farming operations cannot effectively market wheat overseas. The MAP and FMD programs help to encourage those customers to consider the various classes and qualities of U.S. wheat.

With funding from MAP, FMD and U.S. wheat farm families, experienced USW staff and consultants add exceptional value to all U.S. wheat class imports. USW also invests substantial funding to help overcome trade or technical barriers that would otherwise keep end-users from realizing the highest value and most revenue from using U.S. wheat.

“These export market development programs enable U.S. Wheat Associates to build a critical reserve of trust and goodwill with our overseas buyers, end-users and influential government officials, as well as key U.S. government agencies and officials,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “And there is a clear return on investment—for every dollar spent on export promotion, there is a return of $24.50 in additional net export revenue – and the return is even higher to the U.S. wheat supply system.”

U.S. Farm and Economic Returns

The new econometric study, conducted by IHS Markit and Texas A&M University agricultural economists Dr. Gary Williams and Dr. Oral Capps, showed export programs added an average of $9.6 billion per year to export value between 1977 and 2019. For farmers, livestock producers and dairy operators, the study showed MAP and FMD increased cash receipts by $12.2 billion per year. The study also indicated that these export market development programs added 225,800 new jobs across the entire U.S. economy.

“Our work indicated that MAP and FMD have accounted for 13.7% of all the revenue generated by U.S. agricultural exports between 1977 and 2019,” said Dr. Williams. “The additional export revenue bolsters the entire U.S agricultural sector and creates a multiplier effect throughout the U.S. economy.”

Infographic information noting 13.7% increase in revenue from export market development programs.

Export Market Development programs fund the trade and technical service that adds value to U.S. wheat imports and dozens of other U.S. agricultural export products.

The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports welcomed the results of the study. In letters sent on April 27, 2022, members of the Coalition, including USW and other organizations, asked U.S. House and Senate agricultural appropriations subcommittee leadership to maintain funding of at least $200 million for the Market Access Program (MAP) and $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program in FY2023.

ATP Investment Also Analyzed

The study also analyzed the potential impact of the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program that the USDA established in 2019.

The ATP program provided $300 million to cooperating organizations, to which they contributed $90 million in cash, goods and services. The study’s analysis of future expected returns from those investments between 2019 and 2026 predicts that incremental funding for agricultural export market development will provide an excellent return.

The full export market development study, the Coalition letters to congressional appropriators, and more information about the value of U.S. agricultural exports to U.S. producers and their global customers are available at