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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 winter wheat brings to the market.


Let us start with the value that the largest wheat class, hard red winter (HRW) wheat, brings to the global market. With annual average production over the last five years of 22.64 million metric tons (MMT) or more than 831 million bushels, U.S. HRW accounts for more than 41 percent of the total wheat produced in the United States.

Milling Advantages

Mills that only use one class of wheat in their grist are few and far between. Blending classes of wheat from different origins is a standard and crucial for the mill and its customers. Blending adds consistent quality in mill operation and, in the resulting flour products, to the wheat foods processor. It helps the mill produce the most valuable flour at a lower cost, and, of course, blending is needed to produce the range of flour products for specific end uses.

For these reasons, the quantity and quality of U.S. HRW produced annually create an optimal foundation for any wheat procurement strategy. From the miller’s perspective, U.S. HRW brings consistency to the grist. For a mill to perform optimally, it needs to be well-balanced. Constantly changing mill grist creates a milling environment that is difficult to keep balanced. A balanced mill optimizes flour extraction and helps maximize milling efficiency. Maintaining U.S. HRW as the foundation of the mill grist allows the miller to blend local wheat, other U.S. wheat classes, or wheat from other origins as cost advantages or product differentiation opportunities develop in the market.

Baking Advantages

U.S. HRW is available in a wide range of protein levels, which is excellent for making a variety of wheat foods alone or blended with flour from other classes to optimize performance and flour cost. It is also suitable for producing an all-purpose flour that can be used in a wide range of products. Medium protein flour from HRW can be used for several types of yeast and flatbreads, and noodles. Low protein HRW flour can be used in a blend with soft white (SW) or soft red winter (SRW) to make some types of biscuits (cookies). Higher protein HRW can be used for pizza crust, artisan bread, or non-durum pasta as a 100 percent grist or blended with high protein hard red spring (HRS) wheat to reduce wheat cost and optimize the quality characteristics of the finished products.

USW technical colleagues evaluate hard red winter flour performance in bread

Evaluating Hard Red Winter Flour Performance. USW technical experts from around the world visited the United States in March 2022 to update their already strong knowledge of U.S. wheat performance. Here, at the Wheat Marketing Center, Portland, Ore., evaluating bread quality made with flour from hard red winter and other U.S. wheat classes are (L-R): Adrian Redondo, USW Manila; David Oh, USW Seoul; Andres Saturno, USW Santiago; Peter Lloyd, USW Casablanca; Roy Chung, USW Singapore; Tarik Gahi, USW Casablanca; Bon Lee, Wheat Marketing Center (foreground); Casey Chumrau, Idaho Wheat Commission (background).

In the end, the greatest benefit to the baker is the same as the miller: consistency when used as the sole wheat type or used in a blend to improve the baking characteristics, such as dough stability or water absorption, of local wheat or wheat from another origin. U.S. HRW is always available to the market and provides the most reliable foundation for the formulation of nearly any wheat-based product.

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.

Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six distinct wheat classes, the United States has the right wheat class to help 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 Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter
Durum

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By Catherine Miller, USW Programs Coordinator

With the COVID-19 pandemic still lingering in 2021, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) continued to provide reliable, high-quality service to customers worldwide via virtual programming. The pandemic’s start quickly brought challenges that no industry in modern history had experienced on such an immediate, global scale. However, USW quickly pivoted and adapted its programs. That experience and valued feedback we received better prepared USW to improve and expand virtual programs in 2021.

USW conducted more than 315 virtual programs in 2021 and reached over 13,000 participants. This increased from 296 virtual programs and 11,000 participants in 2020, even as some regions slowly began implementing in-person activities again this year. The chart below showcases a breakdown of the types of USW programs and compares virtual participant reach in 2020 and 2021 to pre-pandemic, in-person participant numbers in 2019.

Estimated number of participants in USW programs 2019-2021

“Marketing year (MY) 2021/22 combined ending stocks of major wheat exporters are projected to reach their lowest level in more than ten years. This tighter supply outlook among exporters pushed wheat prices to historically high levels, and adverse global weather

Mike Spier

Mike Spier, USW Vice President of Overseas Operations

conditions intensified market volatility,” said USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier. “In 2021, USW overseas staff rose to the challenge and increased the number of customers reached through crop and market updates by more than 1,000 participants compared to similar programs in 2020. This increased frequency in virtual programs and timely market information kept buyers around the world informed of the latest wheat price, production and quality trends, helping them navigate tighter supplies, price volatility and challenges brought on by the pandemic.”

In 2021, USW hosted a new monthly webinar series, “Creating Value for U.S. Wheat,” hosted by Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global and Technical Services. With assistance from Catherine Miller, USW Programs Coordinator, the seven-part series featured technical topics and current market trends such as solvent retention capacity (SRC), flour blending, flour particle size impact, stream selection and more. Webinar speakers included USW’s in-house technical staff, including Fowler, Roy Chung, Ivan Goh, Tarik Gahi, Peter Lloyd and Andrés Saturno. The monthly webinars ran from April to October and reached more than 1,840 participants.

Another highlight from USW’s 2021 virtual programming was the first-ever “School of Wheat Quality Course.” USW collaborated with Dr. Senay Simsek, Purdue University, and Brian Sorenson, Northern Crops Institute (NCI), who designed and executed two intensive 6-week virtual sessions for customers in South and Southeast Asia. Participants took a deep dive into the various steps of wheat quality testing from field to table through live-streamed lectures and demonstrations. Benchmark exams were conducted throughout the 6-week course and were a requirement for graduation—a helpful tool to ensure participants stayed engaged.

“These courses provided foundational instruction on testing wheat and flour quality. Training mill staff how to accurately measure quality parameters and compare attributes offered by different types of wheat helps illustrate the superior quality of U.S. wheat classes,” said USW Regional Vice President for South Asia Joe Sowers. “Courses like this are a win-win for USW and our stakeholders. They facilitate the success of collaborating millers while proving the value proposition of using U.S. wheat.”

For the U.S. wheat industry and its overseas customers, who share historically long connections, meeting together in person here and abroad has always been paramount to its successful relationships. While the value of face-to-face activities is irreplaceable, the unique opportunity to increase USW’s reach to customers has become a silver lining to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Going forward, USW sees the value in leveraging a mix of in-person and virtual programming to best serve its customers.

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) sees a robust growth opportunity for U.S. wheat exports to South America. To meet rising demand for bread, snacks and other wheat foods, regional flour millers are hungry for information they need to purchase a wider range of high-quality wheat classes.

U.S. wheat must compete in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Brazil and other South American countries with imported Canadian and Argentinian wheat. Technical training and comparative analysis to demonstrate the advantages of U.S. wheat classes are important parts of USW’s work in the region. However, those efforts are somewhat constrained because a substantial portion of the funding for activities was needed for travel costs to conduct activities in sometimes limited facilities in each country or at U.S. educational institutions.

ATP Funding Yields Innovative Idea

A potential answer to this challenge arrived in 2019 when the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), was created to help U.S. agriculture build new export markets. Under ATP, USW’s regional South American office staff in Santiago, Chile, proposed an innovative promotional concept to establish a regional flour milling, cereal chemistry and baking laboratory in cooperation with a respected university.

Through pandemic-related delays and customs challenges, USW and its project partner, Universidad Mayor, worked steadily to build a facility on the university’s Santiago campus and equip the lab with a test flour mill, wheat and flour analysis instruments and bread ovens. On Dec. 3, 2021, USW and the university dedicated Laboratorio De Analisis De Granos Harinas Y Panifcacion at an event attended by Chile’s Minister of Agriculture, U.S. State Department and FAS officials, the university rector and executives with several Chilean flour mills.

Photos show honored guests at the dedication of the new lab.

Honored Guests. Learning more about the new lab are, (L to R): Bret Tate, Agricultural Attaché, USDA/FAS; Lisa Swenarski, Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. State Department; Pedro Pablo Lagos, Purchasing Manager, Luchetti Pasta, Santiago, Chile; Andrés Saturno, Technical Manager, USW/Santiago; Miguel Galdós, Regional Director, USW/Santiago; Lisa Swenarski; María Emilia Undurraga, Chilean Minister of Agriculture; Dr. Patricio Manque, Rector, Universidad Mayor. Photos courtesy of Universidad Mayor.

“We are very pleased to open the first lab of its kind in this region with Universidad Mayor,” said Miguel Galdós, USW Regional Director, South America. “We know that technical managers at South American flour mills have more influence today on the types of wheat their mills need to purchase. USW will be able to help more of those managers understand the differential advantages of U.S. wheat classes by conducting programs at this regional lab. At the same time, having access to consistent and reliable testing and analysis will lead to improvements in production processes and help improve the quality of regional wheat-based end products.”

More Efficient, More Effective

“Before now, South American millers would have to send wheat samples to a commercial company in Guatemala for analysis, so this lab adds much more efficiency in its support for regional customers,” said Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services, who participated in the dedication event.

As a partner in the new lab, USW purchased and installed all the equipment using ATP funds, while Universidad Mayor built the lab and will cover fixed costs. USW Santiago in return will share equal access with the university to the lab for technical support activities supporting U.S. wheat exports to South America and remain the lab’s only private partner for 15 years.

Photo shows instruments in a new laboratory for measuring wheat quality that will support wheat exports to South America.

Fully Equipped. USW donated the instruments needed to analyze and compare wheat, flour and baking performance at the new lab. Funding for the equipment came from the Agricultural Trade Promotion program administered by USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service. Photo courtesy of Universidad Mayor.

Golden Opportunity

After attending the dedication event, USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier called the new lab “a golden opportunity” to demonstrate the competitive baking advantage of U.S. wheat classes compared to wheat from other origins.

“With the ever-changing travel restrictions and quarantines, USW hasn’t been able to organize in-person technical activities for several months,” Spier said. “The lab provides everything USW Technical Specialist Andrés Saturno needs to get back to demonstrating the superior end-use baking performance of U.S. wheat classes to partners in Chile and other customers in USW’s South America region.”

Impressive Team and Project

For USW Chairman Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Ore., the dedication event was his first overseas trip to meet with customers in more than two years and his first visit to South America.

“I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of the regional USW team and among the guests at the dedication for this new lab,” Padget said. “I understand why, partly because we visited a supermarket in Santiago and saw the types of bread consumers purchase and how they shop. In Chile, consumption is very high, and they buy most of their bread for the day by the piece. Consumers there and across South America are looking for excellent quality products with a ‘clean label’ – very few additives. I think this lab will help USW demonstrate how flour from our wheat helps millers and bakers meet that demand.”

The evidence of that was on display at the dedication event as artfully crafted bread products and pizza refreshments baked by Master Baker Didier Rosada and his wife Kathy Cruz using flour milled from U.S. wheat. USW frequently works with Rosada’s Red Brick Consulting company to conduct baking seminars in Spanish-speaking countries. The week of the dedication, Rosada and USW held a workshop using U.S. wheat flour for customers representing 75% of Chile’s milling industry.

 

Impressive artisan bread products display.

An Artful Display. Master Baker Didier Rosada and Katherine Cruz, Red Brick Consulting, produced this impressive display of bread products admired by and shared with guests at the dedication of the new lab, Dec. 3, in Santiago, Chile. Photo courtesy of Universidad Mayor.

Traditional preferences and the landed price of imported wheat will remain a competitive challenge for U.S. wheat in South America. But the complete value of U.S. wheat becomes more obvious to customers through demonstration and training. Now there is a dedicated facility for that work, giving USW the opportunity to interact with regional customers more frequently and invest more of its funding to show them the unique advantages of U.S. wheat.

USW Colleagues at the Lab Dedication that will support Wheat Exports to South America.

Proud Colleagues. The USW/Santiago team who worked tirelessly to build the new laboratory to promote U.S. wheat exports to South America shared their enthusiasm for the project with USW guests. L to R: Mark Fowler, Vice President of Global Technical Services; Maria Martinez, Administrative Assistant; Andres Saturno, Claudia Gomez, Senior Marketing Specialist; Mike Spier, Vice President of Overseas Operations; Paola Valdivia, Finance & Administrative Manager; Miguel Galdos; Osvaldo Seco, Assistant Regional Director; and Darren Padget, USW Chairman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clear Competence

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

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

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

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

Passion for Wheat Quality

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

Dr. Senay Simsek at Northern Crops Institute

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

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

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

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

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Flour millers and wheat food processors around the world are familiar with the trade and technical service available from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). That support, USW believes, adds value to the U.S. wheat imports and helps global customers and end-users make profitable changes in their enterprises. However, those activities would not be possible without the funding that comes from the successful public-private partnerships between the U.S. government and U.S. wheat farmers. USW has shared some interesting historical information about this partnership and how it has evolved (see links below).

Farmers First

Farmers have contributed to these public-private partnerships from their beginnings in the 1950s. Today their investment comes voluntarily through the 17 state wheat commissions that choose to be USW members. That qualifies USW to apply for funding from export market development programs administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

USW receives funding for its activities in markets around the world from the Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and the Quality Samples Program (QSP). USW also receives funding from the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program.

Annual Approval Required

The MAP, FMD and QSP programs are part of federal U.S. farm legislation, known as the Farm Bill. Every year as part of its budgeting process, the U.S. Congress must review and approve budgets for each program.

That is why on March 9, 2021, the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports sent letters of support for the programs to committee leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) joined 128 other organizations in signing the letters.

The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports believes funding for public-private partnerships between the U.S. government and U.S. farmers adds value to U.S. agricultural exports and helps global customers and end-users make profitable changes in their enterprises.

Wheat Export Example

In the letter to Senate subcommittee leaders, the Coalition included information about how USW invested MAP program funds to help a Mexican flour milling executive identify grain trade partners with rail loading capacity, an activity that resulted directly in new U.S. wheat imports.

The letters from the Coalition to members of Congress are linked below. The letters talk mainly about why the programs help U.S. farmers. USW’s commitment to the world’s wheat buyers stays focused on using program funds to share trade and technical services to help them get the most from high-quality, reliable U.S. wheat.

Coalition to Promote US Agricultural Exports FY ’22_House Letter

Coalition to Promote US Agricultural Exports FY ’22_Senate Letter

A Legacy of Commitment – Western Wheat Associates Develops Asian Markets

A Legacy of Commitment – Great Plains Wheat Focused on Improving Quality and HRW Markets

A Legacy of Commitment – The U.S. Wheat Export Public-Private Partnership Today

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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly brought on challenges that no industry in modern history had experienced on such an immediate, global scale. For the U.S. wheat industry and its overseas customers, who share a long history of connection, meeting face-to-face and connecting personally has always been paramount to its successful relationships. When that was no longer possible, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) quickly pivoted and adapted to virtual programs to maintain its ties with customers and reassure them that the U.S. wheat store remained open.

In 2020, USW conducted over 296 virtual programs from March to December, which is approximately one virtual program per day since its staff and customers started experiencing office closures and event cancellations due to COVID-19. These programs reached over 11,000 people, more than double the number of individuals reached in same time span in 2019.

“According to our trade contacts, U.S. Wheat Associates has been an emerging leader in providing virtual programming,” said Mike Spier, USW vice president of overseas operations. “We reached a lot of people because our customers were also working from home and online platforms allowed them to expand these opportunities throughout their companies.”

2019 vs 2020 estimated program participants show impact of virtual programs

USW’s 2020 virtual programming included its annual crop quality seminars. In a typical year, as the organization’s largest program, USW sends teams of staff, U.S. wheat farmers, state wheat commission staff and other industry experts to host 20-plus regional, local in-person seminars. Instead, this year USW videotaped 17 original presentations, each translated into as many as nine languages, and provided the videos to overseas offices to share with customers through email marketing campaigns and live webinars.

“The biggest takeaway from conducting webinars is the range and number of participants we’ve been able to reach through virtual programs. For example, we saw several participants that may be junior staff that doesn’t always get the opportunity to participate in courses or trade delegations that are usually reserved for senior staff,” said Chad Weigand, regional vice president, USW Cape Town Office. “We’ve been able to include many more people in webinars than we could if we had held the activities in person. A group traveling for a trade delegation or course typically needs to be capped at around 10 participants because of logistics and expenses. Our virtual Kansas trade delegation had over 40 participants that logged on from multiple countries throughout the region.”

USW staff also saw that the webinar format provided some anonymity that allowed participants to be more open about questions and challenges they were experiencing.

One USW technical consultant shared, “What was most noticeable was that the level of interactions with the presenters was higher than typically seen during trainings…and, without exception, the webinars ran over the allocated time due to follow up questions from the delegates.”

Looking ahead, USW will continue to stay in close contact with its customers and monitor the possibility of travel and in-person meetings on a case-by-case basis, while continuing to adapt and embrace virtual meeting opportunities.

“There are elements of meeting face-to-face with our customers and stakeholders that will always be invaluable for our industry, but the silver lining of 2020 for U.S. Wheat Associates, was that we were able to reach a larger audience,” said Spier. “Moving forward, as the world opens up, we will embrace both in-person and virtual opportunities to connect.”

By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications; and Catherine Miller, USW Program and Planning Coordinator

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Name: Andrés Saturno

Title: Technical Specialist

Office: USW South American Regional Office, Santiago

Providing Service to: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru


Though raised in Carialinda, Venezuela, located in the mountains of Naguanagua, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Technical Specialist Andrés Saturno and his two brothers grew up with Italian and Spanish influences from his parents and grandmother. Bread was a big part of their table, and Saturno learned how to make many different kinds.

“Our daily consumption of wheat breads included close to twenty bollitos, which are French-style rolls, and two pan campesinos, a Spanish-style artisan bread,” Saturno said. “I also have made my favorite dish, gnocchi, from my grandmother’s recipe.”

Throughout his younger years, Saturno and his father, Andrea, a professional miller, worked on presentations related to wheat flour for his school science fairs. Saturno said their best presentation compared the properties of wheat gluten with other cereals. For this, they produced and displayed rice flour bread “that looked like a stone” and “beautiful wheat flour bread.”

Like Father, Like Son

In Saturno’s childhood, the group of mills where his father worked as the general manager and as the first Director of the Latin American School of Milling, known as ESLAMO, also made quite an impression.

“I was always fascinated to see the trains loaded with wheat entering the mill where my father worked,” Saturno said, “and with the analysis equipment in the ESLAMO milling school that USW had originally donated.”

After high school, Saturno was undecided if he wanted to be a mechanical engineer or a chef, but his father’s career influenced him to major in milling engineering. Saturno decided to attend Universidad Panamericana Del Puerto, where his father had started the milling engineering major, and he took great interest in the specific food processes and engineering behind milling.

Andrés (far right) with his father, Andrea (middle right), and his brothers in 2004.

“My dad has always been an example for me as a person and as a professional,” Saturno said. “Everyone said good things about him, and that influenced me even at school.”

Building a Career

During his time at the university, he honed his skills at ESLAMO and gained more experience with wheat, flour, baking, and pasta analysis. Saturno said that his time at the university and ESLAMO gave him the theoretical and practical tools to understand and solve problems in the milling process.

Andrés and his classmates at the ESLAMO milling school.

After graduation, Saturno’s first job was at a durum mill owned by a pasta factory. Saturno learned about milling semolina, pasta production, and how to operate a mill built in the 1950s. Saturno then worked at a food consulting company installing milling equipment and accessories and various other agro-industry equipment in animal handling facilities and feed plants. While working for the food consulting company, he had the opportunity to return to his university to teach milling.

“It was the most beautiful job I had,” Saturno said. “I still have communication with my students. Nothing is more rewarding than teaching.”

Building on his work at an older, established mill, Saturno moved to Honduras to work as the head of milling production in a brand-new flour mill. While there, Saturno learned how to grind U.S. soft red winter (SRW) wheat and produce flour for products like tortillas by blending different wheat classes.

Here, Saturno is providing in-plant technical service for a customer in Brazil.

The Right Fit

During Saturno’s time in Honduras, USW worked with its state wheat commission member organizations in the Pacific Northwest to develop and fund a new technical specialist position based in its South American regional office in Santiago, Chile. Changes in regional markets significantly influenced the need to add technical expertise in flour milling and blending. Someone with that experience and good communication skills would be needed.

During the search in early 2018, Casey Chumrau, who at the time was serving as USW Marketing Manager in the South American region, and is now executive director for the Idaho Wheat Commission, reached out to Andrea Saturno, who had been working with USW as a milling consultant since 2013, to ask about potential candidates.

“Turns out, his son, Andrés, was looking for a new job,” Chumrau said. “Since we had been working with Andrea, I knew we would have to be extra diligent in vetting his son to avoid any bias,” Chumrau said. “From the first contact, however, Andrés was extremely professional and showed a lot of potential. We knew he had the passion and personality to do the job,” Chumrau added. “Once Mark Fowler (USW Vice President of Global Technical Services) confirmed Andrés had the technical knowledge, we offered him the job.”

“I loved the idea of working with many different mills and processes where wheat is involved,” Saturno said. “I received the call for the job with USW, and at that moment, I said, ‘I can’t lose this chance.’”

With USW/Santiago, Saturno’s role is to work closely with customers and technical staff in South America to provide training, technical advice, and ongoing support to millers. To accomplish this, Saturno creates seminars and technical classes for the South American region to build relationships while providing valuable information and skills to USW customers.

“Andrés has extensive soft skills and excellent relationships with regional customers and his team,” Claudia Gomez, USW Senior Marketing Specialist in the USW Santiago Office, said. “He also provides important technical knowledge in milling and very good speaking skills to [present] various technical information to our clients.”

USW Brazilian Technical Trade Delegation to the United States on a visit to ADM Milling.

“Andrés’ expertise has allowed our customers to get the best out of our wheat during the cleaning, conditioning, and milling processes,” Miguel Galdós, USW Regional Director, South America, said. “Through post-sale activities, Andrés has collaborated with different mills in the region, creating confidence and loyalty with the technical staff of our customers.”

Technical Service

Saturno’s work helps USW Santiago provide services and training on all six U.S. wheat classes to customers in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. Financial support for his activities comes from state wheat commissions in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon and USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service export market development programs.

Some examples of his work include utilizing the Quality Samples Program (QSP) to introduce hard red winter (HRW) and hard red spring (HRS) wheat to a Chilean mill and soft white (SW) wheat to a mill in Colombia, leading a USW-sponsored team of Brazilian flour managers on a visit to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Soft Wheat Laboratory in Wooster, Ohio, and on tours of wheat research facilities at Kansas State University and Texas A&M University.

Andrés co-led a QSP and milling seminar at Molino La Estampa in Chile with his father, Andrea Saturno, and USW colleague Casey Chumrau (now Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director). The La Estampa QSP activity encouraged the mill to import 4,500 metric tons (MT) of HRW and 1,000 MT of SRW. 

“In previous years, USW was an institution that, although it had an office [in Santiago], there was no local contact to turn to in case of technical doubts,” said Maria Ines Velarde, Lab Manager, Molino La Estampa, Santiago, Chile. “The change in strategy that we have seen the last years, which included the arrival of Andrés Saturno, has meant that USW and La Estampa got closer, and that created ties and trust that allow us to have key and reliable information to make decisions at the right time.”

With Saturno as a technical specialist, USW can now give customers in the South American region more complete customer service.

Traveling with USW Santiago colleagues. (L to R) Andrés Saturno, Osvaldo Seco, Casey Chumrau and Miguel Galdos.

“This helped us widen our service area spectrum for our clients,” Saturno said. “Now we give constant technical attention to the personnel of laboratories, bakeries, milling, marketing, post-sale technicians, buyers, and owners of the mills.”

Saturno’s passion for the industry, experience in technical training, and ability to communicate with his customers has earned the respect not only of his customers but also of his colleagues.

“Andrés has contributed strong technical knowledge in the milling process, which has been a great value for all our regional customers, giving them the necessary technical support to obtain the best return from our wheat,” Galdós said.

“In addition to being a professional milling expert, Andrés is one of the best people in the world,” Chumrau said. “He truly wants each mill to be successful and doesn’t need any of the credit. He is a team player, a dedicated employee, and a great colleague. Andrés is and undoubtedly will further the mission of USW representing U.S. wheat farmers and their products.”

Andrés and his wife, Berenice, at an ALIM conference in Mexico.

Andrés and his son, Alessio Massimiliano Saturno Ramos, born on February 19, 2020.


By Dylan Davidson, USW Communications Intern

Editor’s Note: This is the ninth 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.”

Header Photo Caption: Andrés (far right) at a USW milling seminar in Fortaleza, Brazil with fellow USW staff, Peter Lloyd (second from left) and Miguel Galdos (second to right).


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
Wei-lin Chou – Finding Harmony in the Wheat Industry

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Despite the different roles or distances between us, all the people around the world in the story of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) share an unspoken connection, not only through U.S. wheat, but also through our shared values of growth, hard work and family.

Today, those connections may have been physically broken by concern for our health during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the effort to keep those bonds strong continues thanks to the miracle of the Internet.

USW has adapted before to circumstances that kept our representatives apart from overseas customers. Our regional office in Mexico City used online tools to successfully conduct virtual Crop Quality Seminars with Venezuelan customers since 2015.

With forethought that looks uncanny today, USW Director of Information Services Terry Herman in 2019 installed the latest collaboration software from Microsoft that has become a lifeline to customers who initially were very concerned that the pandemic would disrupt the flow of wheat from the United States. USW quickly put the new tool to work to help reassure customers that the U.S. wheat store would stay open.

USW Singapore Biscuit/Bakery and Noodle Technologist Ivan Goh presented a webinar on “SRC as a Quality Control Tool” to a Philippine food company May 21, 2020, one of many such online presentations USW is now conducting to stay in touch with its customers

“It was very important to have the ability to connect personally, even if it was through virtual meetings,” said USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier. “With the restrictions and a new wheat crop coming there were lots of questions about supply to answer. I don’t think you can ever replace the value of face-to-face meetings but being able to quickly turn to online tools that allow us to see and hear each other sure helps to reinforce the relationships.”

Using its new platform, for example, USW Manila has conducted an online meeting with more than 50 Philippine flour millers to discuss current supply and demand factors. The tool helped USW reach out to flour millers across Sub-Saharan Africa. USW Santiago is holding almost daily meetings on the platform with customers in several South American countries

In April, USW Singapore worked with a local partner to conduct a two-hour webinar on cookie and cracker production featuring USW Bakery Consultant Roy Chung for 194 baking industry professionals from key U.S. wheat markets including the Philippines and Indonesia. A second webinar to South Asian customers in May focused on cake production. USW Santiago and USW Cape Town also partnered with Kansas Wheat to hold virtual trade teams that featured harvest progress, early crop quality and price expectations, and online video discussions with farmers live from their fields.

These are only a few examples of how USW, with support from its state wheat commission members, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, farmers and other industry organizations, is working to secure the trusted partnerships they have built with overseas customers – even in the midst of such an unexpected disruption.

 

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Name: Adrian “Ady” Redondo

Title: Technical Specialist

Office: USW South Asian Regional Office, Manila

Providing Service to: Republic of the Philippines and Korea


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toward the Next Generation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any Resource Available

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

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

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

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

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

Character Doesn’t Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

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


Meet the other USW Technical Experts in this blog series:

 

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

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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 less than 1 million metric tons (MMT), about 30 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 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