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

 

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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 https://bit.ly/3d9zEe1.

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

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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
Durum

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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 https://www.grains.k-state.edu/igp/.

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

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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

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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

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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 www.AgExportsCount.org.

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As a service to its wheat milling and baking customers, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) provides a range of technical support that is unmatched in the global wheat trade. One of the most valuable services USW has offered is helping customers apply Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) analysis to better predict the true performance characteristics of flour for biscuits (cookies), crackers and cakes, as well as many hard wheat flour applications.

A Reflection of Functionality

More specifically, SRC examines the glutenin, gliadin and pentosan characteristics of the flour, and the level of starch damage in the flour. These values describe the flour’s ability to absorb water during the mixing process and its ability to release that water during the baking process. The combined pattern of the four SRC values establishes a practical flour quality profile useful for predicting functionality and how flour products conform to specifications.

USW is showing millers how to use SRC to analyze flour streams to maximize quality while minimizing costs. For bakers, such testing ensures they are using the best possible flour for their products.

A frame from a video presentation by Art Bettge on Solvent Retention Capacity

In 2020, as part of its virtual Crop Quality Seminar series, USW asked cereal chemist Art Bettge to go into more depth on how millers and bakers can use and interpret SRC results to add value to their processes and products. A cereal chemist with more than 40 years of experience at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Western Wheat Quality Laboratory in Pullman, Wash., and in his ADB Wheat Consulting business, Bettge recorded an in-depth video presentation.

Watch Bettge’s entire presentation from the 2020 USW Crop Quality Seminars below. USW technical staff also shared their recommended Solvent Retention Capacity profiles for cookie and cracker products online. And most importantly, USW representatives in 13 offices around the world, are always ready to help our customers, through technical support and trade service, making buying U.S. wheat a rewarding experience.

Header Photo Copyright © Chopin Technologies.

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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 red spring wheat brings to the market.


This post discusses the value U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat brings to the global market. HRS is the second largest wheat class with a five-year annual average production of 13.7 million metric tons (MMT)or about 504 million bushels as of 2020/21. It accounts for about 26% of the total wheat produced in the United States.

The three subclasses of HRS include Dark Northern Spring (DNS) with 75% or more of dark, hard and vitreous (DHV) kernels; Northern Spring (NS) with 25% or more but less than 75% DHV kernels; and Red Spring (RS) with less than 25% DHV kernels.

Milling Advantages

U.S. HRS wheat poses some unique opportunities and challenges to the miller. HRS is the hardest of all the non-durum classes of wheat but also has the smallest average kernel size. Millers experienced with HRS in their grist know excellent results can be achieved with some adjustments.

First, adjusting the screen sizes of separating equipment in the cleaning house will reduce the risk of losing good quality but also results in smaller kernels. A longer conditioning time is needed to ensure the tempering water fully penetrates the harder HRS wheat kernels. Optimal conditioning time is dependent on several factors, but in most cases, HRS will require a minimum of 20 hours for optimal conditioning time. The miller’s reward for these adjustments is higher than average flour yield from the harder, more compact HRS endosperm. The hard endosperm creates excellent granulation through the break system to provide an abundance of stock to the purifiers. This allows the miller to maximize flour with low ash and excellent color throughout the head end of the mill.

Baking Advantages

Because of the high protein content and strong dough characteristic of U.S. hard red spring wheat flour, it is commonly used in a blend to improve the performance of a lower protein base flour. Only a few end products such as artisan-style bread, whole wheat products, and bagels may be made with 100% HRS flour to achieve optimal performance. For nearly any type of bread or leavened bread product such as thick pizza crust, the greatest value of HRS flour comes from blending it with a lower protein, lower-cost flour to create optimal ingredients for individual products. In markets where consumers demand a “clean label,” HRS flour blended with HRW or other wheat flour can create better water absorption and loaf volume while using less or no chemical dough improvers. And many pasta makers around the world know that when traditional durum wheat semolina is not needed, HRS wheat flour or semolina is a very acceptable alternative.

U.S. Wheat Advantages

As we highlight each 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 products 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 White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter
Durum

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

NCI is a collaborative effort by North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota to support the promotion and market development of crops grown in the four-state region. Since 1979, NCI has been an international meeting and learning center that brings together customers, commodity traders, technical experts and processors for discussion, education and technical services. Situated on the North Dakota State University (NDSU) campus, this unique facility is only minutes from the farm fields that yield much of the world’s food. From the beginning, USW was involved in helping establish NCI and its mission and, since then, has sponsored hundreds of U.S. durum and spring wheat customers from around the world to participate in NCI programming.

A Global Reputation

NCI’s director, Mark Jirik, understands the institute’s strong tradition and reputation as a reliable resource for the U.S. wheat industry. From the start, he was impressed to witness the relationship NCI has with USW and the supporting state wheat commissions.

“This region is known as the heart of spring wheat country, a crop with a worldwide reputation for quality, so our focus on wheat has always been a baseline here on the upper Great Plains. People have made it their life’s work to make sure the world understands the quality and value of U.S. spring and durum wheat,” said Jirik. “The U.S. wheat industry is visionary and forward-thinking regarding quality. It is humbling to see the U.S. wheat industry’s vision and that its participants continue to support NCI, even when times may be tough.”

NCI provides hands-on programming that enables participants to learn about northern climate crops and their unique qualities, marketability and processing characteristics. Its laboratories are equipped for baking, pasta processing, twin-screw extrusion, grain grading and commodity and product analyses. The pilot-sized swing mill and the Feed Production Center enhance the NCI staff’s ability to demonstrate the varied uses of northern-grown crops. The NDSU Commodity Trading Room offers a live experience for participants to learn how to extract and analyze information and make decisions concerning risk and risk management.

Training for U.S. Wheat Customers

Every year USW sponsors customers from around the world to attend NCI courses focused on contracting for wheat value and grain procurement management for importers. In 2020 and 2021, those courses continued virtually. Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President for South Asia, regularly brings customers to NCI and has participated in a course himself.

“The Northern Crops Institute grain procurement course offers innovative training in state-of-the-art facilities, such as the NDSU commodity trading laboratory,” said Sowers. “Participants observe the mechanics of the U.S. wheat marketing system from production to storage, and transport to export, providing them with crucial information fundamental in grain purchasing. Spending nearly two weeks with buyers worldwide, participants gain useful contacts they will maintain throughout their careers.”

When participants complete a course at NCI, Jirik wants them to have a solid understanding of the value and quality — and the heart — that goes into the products they buy. “I want them to think, ‘Wow, what a fantastic experience. I understand now why I should be using U.S. wheat in my products.”

Northern Crops Institute staff with USW technical experts.

Technical Training. USW technical staff visited the Northern Crops Institute in March 2022 for a core competency training session. Our team heard presentations from their peers and industry professionals and participated in demonstrations and tours of NCI’s labs. The main focus of their training was to learn more about solvent retention capacity (SRC) and explore different methods used to obtain results. Read more about their visit to NCI.

Adapting to Digital

In Summer 2020, NCI expanded its offerings to include regular online webinars in order to better reach customers and stakeholders as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to create barriers to connecting in person.

Currently, there are three series. The “NCI Market Update” is featured twice a month. On the first Wednesday of the month, the focus is on hot topics in the commodity markets. The third Wednesday of the month features hour-long commodity market updates where guest speakers share the latest news and analysis impacting the global commodity markets. The “Cereal Innovators” series focuses on new and unique ways to use cereal grains. Topics include new processes, useful information on milling and baking, equipment information, and uses for cereal grains grown in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The “Future of Feeding” series focuses on using innovation in the processing of animal food, the equipment being used (existing and newly developed), as well as using grains from the region for co-products. View past webinars and register for upcoming webinars here.

“The pandemic forced us to think about how we deliver content and build relationships in ways we’ve never had to do before. The webinars have been instrumental in keeping our global customers informed of market trends and conditions, but have also helped us raise issues and ideas that are helping us produce better courses and other programming for the future,” said Jirik. “Being online has allowed us to connect with customers that we would never have had the opportunity to work with in the past. NCI is looking forward to having people back in Fargo, but the webinars, online courses and other delivery methods allow us to build even better relationships with a wider range of audiences.”

Learn more about the Northern Crops Institute and its programming and services at www.northern-crops.com.

By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications


Read about other USW educational partners in this series:

IGP Institute Capitalizes on Resources and Location to Provide Hands-on Training
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