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By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

While global wheat importers have many wheat types and origins to consider, U.S. wheat farmers offer the most diversity in the six distinct classes of wheat they produce. The United States is the only exporting country with grain standards that allow buyers to specify for both wheat class and protein content in their contracts.

However, to achieve the best value for the wheat purchased, the buyer must be well informed to understand the subtle yet critical differences in wheat contract specifications when comparing the quality and value of U.S. wheat to wheat from other origins.

Let us use protein content, perhaps the most basic quality characteristic in wheat, as an example.

How wheat quality characteristics are reported varies from country to country depending on “standards” set by regulations in each country. For protein content, the reporting standard is to compare protein based on moisture content, or the calculated moisture content equivalent.

However, within the major exporting countries there are three different reporting standards for protein content. U.S. wheat grade standards require the percent protein to be reported at a 12% moisture basis. Canadian standards report protein content at 13.5% moisture basis. All other exporting countries, such as Russia, report protein content at 0.0% moisture basis, also referred to as dry basis or d.b.

What that means for the buyer is the only way to get an accurate comparison of protein content in wheat supplies from different exporting countries is to compare them on a common moisture basis. Fortunately, that can be done with a relatively simple calculation – or by contacting your local U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representative. Let us look first at how protein content is reported and calculated.

Example 1

A sample of wheat is evaluated, and the protein content is measured at 11.8% with the moisture content measured at 11.0%. If the reporting standard is 12% moisture basis (m.b.), the reported protein content must be calculated using the formula commonly referred to as the Dry Matter (DM) ratio, expressed here:

The full equation looks like this:

Using the variables in our example, we calculated that the wheat has 11.67% protein on a 12% m.b.

An easy way to determine if the math is done properly is comparing the direction of the final value. If the actual moisture content is lower than the reported moisture basis, the reported protein content will be lower than the actual measured protein content.

Next, let us use the same numbers to calculate the protein at a dry basis or 0% moisture.

Example 2

In this calculation, the actual moisture content (11.0%) is higher than the reported moisture basis (0.0%), so the reported protein content will be higher than the actual measured protein content.

The importance of this example is to understand that the actual protein content of the wheat does not change based on moisture, it is simply math and how the protein content is reported.

Reporting protein content and other wheat and flour attributes such as water absorption at a standard moisture basis is critical to compare expected flour performance of wheat from different origins.

Here is one last example to illustrate this difference. How does Russian grade #3 wheat at 12.5% protein reported at a dry basis, compare to U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat reported at 12% moisture basis?

To answer this question, we do the math.

Example 3

In this calculation, the reported moisture basis of Russian origin wheat is 0.0%, lower than the reported moisture basis of U.S. wheat at 12.0%. As a result, the standard reported protein content of Russian wheat is higher than the standard reported protein content of U.S. wheat, even though the actual protein content is the same for both at 11%.

This difference has been challenging buyers of wheat for years. That is just one reason why USW, the wheat farmers we represent, and the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service continue to make trade servicing and technical support a priority in its activities with overseas wheat buyers, millers and wheat food processors. Contact your regional USW office representative for more information or visit our website and leave a question in our “Ask The Expert” section.

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Name: Ting Liu, Ph.D

Title: Technical Specialist

Office: USW China, Hong Kong Region, Beijing Office

Providing Service to: People’s Republic of China


Where and who we come from makes so much difference in each life. For Dr. Ting Liu, the skills she observed in her family as an only child in southeastern China’s Zhejiang province led directly to a doctorate in food science and her position as Technical Specialist with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW).

“I grew up with parents who produced and sold all kinds of furniture in our town, so they showed me how to stay in harmony with customers,” Dr. Liu said. “My love of food started as I watched my grandmother form dough for the many different Chinese wheat foods she made and sometimes helped me make.”

Ting as a child with her grandmother.

Filled with the traditions of her grandmother’s baking and a focus on schoolwork, Dr. Liu earned a spot in the Food Science and Engineering program at Zhejiang Gongshang University. Learning professional skills and participating in efforts to develop new products, including nutritious drinks and snacks, as she earned her bachelor’s degree, helped convince her that she should focus on food research and development.

“In order to build more food knowledge, improve my competitiveness and broaden my horizons, I decided to do graduate study in food science abroad,” Dr. Liu said.

U.S. Connections

She chose the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, because it served a large agricultural state home to the headquarters of many large-sized food companies, such as Cargill and General Mills. Ultimately, her connections there helped lay the foundation of her work today representing U.S. wheat farmers in China.

“I decided to do my post-graduate research on whole wheat products because of my childhood memories and my understanding of the health benefits of whole grains,” Dr. Liu recalled. “That is how I met a very important advisor in my life, whose name is Dr. Len Marquart. Under his guidance during my doctoral study, I improved my English writing and communication skills, my ability to think independently, solve problems, and how to develop professional networks of influential people. He also made it possible for me to do my research as a visiting scholar at the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Oregon, from June 2014 to January 2016.”

Ting (Third from the right, first row) with Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) Staff and USW China End Product Collaborative Team in 2015 at WMC.

Dr. Liu’s work at WMC was productive and transformative. Working with Dr. Marquart and former WMC Technical Director Dr. Gary Hou, she completed three research projects on improving the quality of whole wheat tortillas using different particle sizes of flour milled from U.S. hard red winter (HRW), hard red spring (HRS), and hard white wheat, sprouted whole wheat flour and a chemical leavening system. Through this research, Dr. Liu published six peer-reviewed technical papers and one book chapter in English on whole wheat products. She presented research results at the annual meetings of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) International and the Institute of Food Technologists. She was also actively involved in the AACC International Milling & Baking Division.

Dr. Liu said working at WMC exposed her to flour milling and wheat and flour quality analysis. She also helped prepare short courses and workshops on wheat products, prepared a range of wheat food products, and completed a research project on pan bread with added whey permeate. Much of that work was done under WMC’s educational partnership with USW.

Understanding the Mission

“One of my favorite things about working at WMC was helping host teams of wheat growers and students from all over the United States, as well as U.S. wheat customers from all over the world,” Dr. Liu said. “In 2015, I had the chance to meet the people working with USW in China when they brought three teams to WMC for different programs. This helped me better understand the USW mission and ignited my interest in joining the USW team in China.”

Ting graduated and obtained a Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of Minnesota in 2016.

Fortunately, as Dr. Liu completed her doctorate program in August 2016, a technical position was available in the USW Beijing office.

“Dr. Marquart believed I would be well-suited to a job serving as a liaison between U.S. farmers, their wheat, and the milling and wheat food industries in China,” Dr. Liu recalled. “During my job interview, USW Regional Vice President Jeff Coey told me the greatest asset of USW lies in its people who are truly good at what they do, are eager to share their knowledge with their teammates and customers, and tend to devote many years to the organization. I took the job as Technical Specialist without hesitation.”

“Ting already had a keen understanding of our mission from her work at the Wheat Marketing Center, and it was apparent right away that she would bring a tremendous value to our team and to our customers in China,” Coey said.

The need for additional wheat classes in China was increasing as Dr. Liu settled into her new position with USW in September 2016. According to IBIS World Industry Report, China’s bread and bakery product manufacturing industry grew rapidly at an annualized rate of 6.6 percent between 2013 and 2018. And until the government implemented retaliatory tariffs in March 2018, China was importing an annual average of 1.6 million metric tons of U.S. HRS, soft white, and HRW.

With that growth comes an opportunity for USW and Dr. Liu. USW continues to have a strong working relationship with the leaders and faculty at the Sino-American Baking School in Guangzhou and baking consultants to help China’s flour millers and wheat food processors better understand how to best utilize the characteristics of U.S. wheat classes to help grow their businesses. Under the guidance of Coey, USW Country Director Shirley Lu, Dr. Liu has taken on more and more of those responsibilities.

Ting conducted a Frozen Dough short course at Sino-American Baking School in 2019.

“Our team has great confidence in providing technical service that customers need to meet new consumer demand using U.S. wheat,” Lu said. “Ting has the expertise, language ability, nice personality, and high sense of responsibility that fit perfectly in the organization and our unique markets.”

It is clear that customers in China consider Dr. Liu a valued addition to USW’s service. They appreciate her undeniable professional credentials and achievements, but above all, they enjoy her sincere, friendly personality.

“Dr. Liu is very keen to use her professional expertise to solve practical problems in our technology research and development,” said one general manager of a flour mill in Guangdong province. “We want to express our heartfelt thanks to her and to U.S. Wheat Associates.”

Dr. Liu made a strong impression on the research and development manager at a very influential wheat buying and flour milling organization in China. She noted that Dr. Liu “takes the initiative to determine the technical needs of our company and provides cutting-edge information to solve problems and help the company. She always teaches complex knowledge with concise language and a sweet voice.”

Continuing Education

In her own generous way, Dr. Liu said USW has made it possible for her to get the best training and exposure to real-world milling and baking challenges as part of her work.

In 2018, USW sent Dr. Liu to a Baking Science and Technology course at AIB International in Manhattan, Kan., an intensive, 16-week program combining science, hands-on lab work, and baking tradition. She represented herself and USW with distinction, earning top student honors and an “Excellence in Laboratory Leadership” award for her participation in the course.

Ting completed the Baking Science and Technology (BST) Course at AIB International in Manhattan, Kansas, in 2018.

“I was also able to assist in the USW Baking Science and Technology, Cookie & Cracker, Frozen Dough, and Advanced Prepared Mix courses developed by our Bakery Consultant Roy Chung at the UFM Baking School in Bangkok, Thailand,” Dr. Liu said. “There is no doubt Mr. Roy is a master of baking and teaching and is very nice to share his technical service expertise and experience with me. Moreover, our Regional Technical Director, Mr. Peter Lloyd, has also provided tremendously valuable guidelines on troubleshooting and solving challenges in flour mills.”

Ting (First from the left, first row) assisted in Mr. Roy Chung’s Advanced Prepared Mix Technology Course in 2019.

Her enthusiastic accounting of the training she has received, and the wide range of technical support she provides make it clear Dr. Liu loves the work she does on behalf of U.S. wheat farmers.

“By visiting and providing technical services to customers, we can better understand customer needs and reflect these requirements to U.S. wheat farmers,” she noted. “At the same time, we can enhance our customers’ effective processing of U.S. wheat flour and how its functional attributes perform for the baker.

“In addition, the seminars and short courses I have conducted can help current and potential customers further understand the characteristics of U.S. wheat and flour, the flour milling process, testing methods, and ways to adjust formulas and processes according to flour specifications. This is of direct benefit to U.S. wheat growers by promoting their wheat to customers in international markets.”

Ting and her bread while attending a BST course at AIB International in 2018.

An Excellent Bridge

In fact, after one recent USW Crop Quality Seminar and a special technical session attended by top Chinese flour mills and food processors, a food company executive commended Dr. Liu’s professional analysis and insight on the supply, quality, and application of U.S. wheat classes.

“She was clear and confident in her presentations and is a knowledgeable expert. I believe she will be an excellent bridge between U.S. Wheat Associates and customers.”

Even in the face of challenging political realities and complex commercial dynamics, private and public customers in China continue to seek information and advice from USW.

“No customer is compelled to work with USW,” Jeff Coey said. “The fact that they choose to accept our service and the products we promote is a testament to everyone on our team,” Jeff Coey said. “Ting complements our ability to earn that trust, understand the constraints, and grasp the opportunities in this market for U.S. wheat. She has a naturally winning way of opening doors for us wherever she goes.”


By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh 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: Ting presented “International Whole Grain Development” at the 2017 Sino-Foreign Whole Grains Industry Development Experts Forum.


Meet the other USW Technical Experts in this blog series:

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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Over the years, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has described the value of U.S. wheat to overseas buyers, millers and wheat food processors in many ways. We have called it “the world’s most reliable choice.” We have suggested it is “the wheat you want from producers you can depend on.” And we have offered it as “high quality wheat for every need with unmatched service and value.”

What we have said about U.S. wheat is not an empty promise. Through seasons of surplus and scarcity, and wide variability in prices, USW continues to make this case because U.S. wheat farmers have consistently produced abundant supplies of excellent quality wheat that has earned an enduring reputation for reliability and value over many years.

Every year, productive U.S. wheat farm families produce enough wheat to fill dinner tables at home, and still have more than half their crops to share with milling and food industries around the world.

As part of our celebration of 40 years operating as USW, we remain true to the differential value of U.S. wheat in this simple expression: “Dependable People. Reliable Wheat.”

Ultimately, USW believes customers from around the world continue to turn to the United States for wheat because buying it carries less risk. U.S. wheat quality is predictable and the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), as an objective third party, certifies that all exported wheat meets import specifications. Their inspectors create a shipping log that is available to the buyer as an additional risk management tool.

The Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), as an objective third party, certifies that all exported wheat meets import specifications.

The U.S. wheat store also offers six distinct classes that are proven specific, high-quality ingredients for any end-product need. Hard red winter, hard red spring, soft white, hard white, soft red winter wheat and durum each offer inherent quality and functional value.

That is reliable wheat.

Moreover, no other wheat seller does more than the United States to add value to its wheat through customer support. At its very base, this support comes from the farm families who take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible. They work hard each year to grow their farms, honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad.

In good years and bad, U.S. wheat farmers have supported USW’s effort to work directly with buyers to answer questions and resolve issues in purchasing, shipping or using their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, which in turn qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

With USW, buyers also get professional technical assistance, education, information and personalized consulting that help strengthen overseas milling, storage and handling, and end product industries.

The highest quality food for the world demands the highest quality wheat. For 40 years dependable people have made the difference.

Today, we remain fixed on the mission of the farmers who created an enduring legacy of commitment and partnership to provide the highest quality wheat for almost every customer need, backed by transparent pricing, trusted third-party certification and unmatched service before and after the sale.

Those are dependable people.

We invite our customers to join us in celebrating our 40th year as USW. We will continue to share the many ways in which the reliability of U.S. wheat and the dependability of U.S. farmers, USW, and our government and educational partners make a positive difference for our customers all over the world.

 

View video on Vimeo.

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The Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP), administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, is intended to help U.S. agricultural exporters develop new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ tariff and non-tariff barriers. One of the ways U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is applying ATP funds is to expand its ability to conduct technical support to wheat buyers and end users in rapidly growing South Asian markets.

USW has had a long-term effort to help customers improve their products and processes through technical support because inexperience in developing market milling and food production sectors can be a constraint to demand for U.S. wheat. In the highly sophisticated wheat food industries in Japan, Korea and other countries, USW’s long-term investment has benefited customers and consumers while establishing strong and consistent export markets for U.S. wheat producers.

USW Baking Consultant Adrian Redondo

In such markets as the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, the imported wheat customer base is expanding, and USW saw a need to increase its technical capabilities to match the growth. At the same time, USW knew that would require additional technical staff and needed to prepare for natural transitions for some senior technical experts.

The addition of ATP funding gave USW the opportunity to add a new Bakery Technician position to work with customers across the South Asian region. Mr. Adrian Redondo, an experienced food technologist and account manager, joined USW in June 2019. He is training with his experienced colleagues and building customer contacts through 2021 when the senior USW bakery consultant based in the Philippines plans to retire. Without additional ATP funding, USW would have had to fund a new technician position from a more limited pool of resources that would, in effect, cut its ability to fund customer activities.

South Asian imports of U.S. hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat from family farms in the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains have grown from an average of about 3.0 million metric tons (MMT) per year 10 years ago to about 5.0 MMT in 2018/19. Future demand for wheat foods is expected to keep growing in the region.

ATP funding provides a wide range of additional opportunities to continue differentiating U.S. wheat in markets like those in South Asia, with no local wheat production and where increasing incomes and urbanization are driving a rapid expansion of wheat food demand.

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is applying Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program funding to hold “Cereal Chemistry Seminars” in 2020 for the milling industries across several countries that are growing in sophistication to meet expanding demand for wheat foods. USW believes that with a more complete understanding of the functional value of wheat proteins, carbohydrates and other properties, flour milling quality control managers will have additional information with which to evaluate the high-quality characteristics of U.S. wheat compared to competing supplies.

To provide the knowledge that will help these managers fully understand the end-use value of U.S. wheat supplies, USW has developed a comprehensive seminar that will be conducted over the next two years in several markets. One of the topics to be covered in the seminars is Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) analysis of flour (photo above Copyright © Chopin Technologies).

USW believes that the evidence is strong supporting SRC as the most effective method for evaluating the true performance characteristics in flour for biscuits (cookies), crackers and cakes, as well as many hard wheat flour applications, is testing for. The SRC Method was created by scientists to identity the important components of wheat flour that affect end-product cost and productivity for cookie and cracker manufacturing. SRC testing reveals that U.S. wheat has strong “character.” In other words, it functions effectively and produces desirable end-products without heavy additive manipulation.

In a brief video, Bongil (Bon) Lee, operations manager with the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore., describes the basic functions of SRC flour analysis. Click here to view the video.

USW anticipates that after the seminars, participants will have enhanced skills, like being able to use SRC analysis, to assist co-workers, suppliers and customers in developing new formulations requiring more specific flours and increased volumes of U.S. wheat classes. Participants will gain expertise in flour analysis and the importance of specifications required in large production bakeries. And quality control staff will have enough technical capabilities to defend the functional value of high-quality flour from U.S. wheat.

By funding opportunities like Cereal Chemistry Seminars, ATP, an export market development program administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, is helping USW continue to give flour milling and baking managers the information they need to meet demanding consumer needs in their local markets while building a preference for U.S. wheat supplies.

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Name: Shin Hak “David” Oh

Title: Food/Bakery Technologist

Office: USW North Asia Region, Seoul Office

Providing Service to: South Korea


The roots of Shin Hak “David” Oh’s food technology career were literally and figuratively fermented in his childhood home in Seoul, South Korea.

The Korean art of making “kimchi” fascinated Oh as a child. Everyone in the family pitched in to salt the vegetables and mix them with chili powder, garlic, ginger, red pepper, sugar, and fish sauce that fermented in earthenware jars, often buried in the ground. It is an ancient process that was first practiced to provide nutritious food through the cold winters and continues to represent the cultural soul of Korea today.

In the arms of his father, a clothing wholesaler, and mother, a homemaker, in 1979.

“I developed a natural interest in fermented food and microorganisms as I helped make our kimchi,” Oh said. “That interest stayed with me as a young person, so I chose to study food and biotechnology at Korea University in Seoul and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2003.”

Now armed with the scientific facts behind how kimchi fermentation removes harmful bacteria and enriches gut-healthy lactobacillus bacteria, Oh decided to pursue a graduate degree at the respected Seoul National University. His work focused on improving food safety and included research on a new regulatory system for inhibiting Salmonella and other pathogens in food. Along the way through university, Oh found time for other important life experiences, including marriage to his wife, Jiae.

Oh’s graduate work at Seoul National University focused on developing methods to inhibit Salmonella and other pathogens in food.

Celebrating Oh’s graduation with a master’s degree in food and biotechnology in 2005 with his wife, Jiae, in his university laboratory.

Professional Success

Oh’s route from food microbiology studies to his current position as Food/Bakery Technologist with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) started in 2005 with his first professional job at SPC Group, the largest bakery company in Korea. As a food safety specialist for two years, Oh helped SPC comply with Korean government food and consumer safety regulations in bakery production, storage, and packaging. He also served on a team that implemented Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety management systems.

Based on the advice of SPC’s food safety center director, Oh successfully pursued a research and development position with the company.

“In that job, I developed several improvers to enhance the quality of pan breads, sweet buns, and frozen dough products,” Oh noted. “I also developed a special ‘sugar-free pan bread,’ which is still sold in some of SPC’s Paris Baguette retail bakeries in Korea.”

His work at SPC, as well as additional hands-on training at AIB International’s “Baking Science and Technology” and “Food Safety and Hygiene” courses, caught the attention of USW Country Director C.Y. Kang. He was looking for candidates to fill a technical support position to expand U.S. wheat export market development in the Korean market.

Oh completed baking technology and food safety courses at AIB International in Manhattan, Kansas, while working at SPC Group in Seoul, South Korea.

 

At SPC, Oh developed a sugar-free pan bread product. In 2013, he was on the factory line as the product was packaged for distribution to SPC’s retail stores.

“David’s great work over eight years at our country’s biggest and most popular commercial and retail bakery was quite impressive,” Kang said. “It also did not take long to see that he is very friendly and kind to everyone. We agreed he would be a great fit with U.S. Wheat Associates and very helpful to our customers in flour milling, baking, and wheat food processing.”

“I went for the position with USW without hesitation, partly because most of the high-quality flour SPC used for bread products was milled from imported U.S. wheat classes,” Oh said. “I had grown passionate about baking at SPC, and I thought the position would also help me expand my knowledge about producing biscuits (cookies), noodles, and other wheat foods.”

Seeking Broader Knowledge at USW

Oh said his expectations were more than met after he started with USW at the beginning of 2015.

“There are many milling, baking, and production experts across our offices and we often help and learn from each other,” he said. “I am a hands-on person, and a technical sales position like this gives me the opportunity to share all of our experience and skills with our customers to help them improve their processes, customer satisfaction, and income using flour made from U.S. wheat.”

That effort takes many forms. One recent example is a seminar held in Korea for bakers from commercial operations in the Philippines.

“Our market is fairly mature with sophisticated processes and very high standards for ingredient quality,” Kang said. “Our USW colleagues wanted to help introduce these processes and new products to customers in the Philippines, so David and I arranged sessions in Seoul at the Korean Baking School and visits to Korean companies for the bakers.”

In addition, Oh has now conducted several baking, biscuit, and noodle production courses at the Korean Baking School in Seoul and, in cooperation with the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Ore., for technical managers from flour mills and processors. Oh discusses and demonstrates blended flour from U.S. wheat classes to the participants, who then test the blends to identify optimal formulations for their commercial products. Drawing from his research experience at SPC, bakery applications developed at USW courses, and the Korean Baking School, Oh has introduced new products, including whole wheat baked goods made with U.S. wheat flour, in four seminars to approximately 300 commercial bakers.

At a Whole Wheat Flour Seminar hosted by Korean flour milling and commercial baking organizations in 2018, Oh presented ideal U.S. wheat flour formulations for bakery applications developed by USW and Korean customers at several activities.

USW is unique in having strong technical expertise available to customers in their mills and production facilities. This is a key part of Oh’s work.

“I am excited to be part of Korea’s thriving wheat food industry. I enjoy visiting our customers and helping them understand the specific milling and functional characteristics of the U.S. wheat classes available to them and how to apply that knowledge to get the most value from their own mills and end-product processes,” Oh explained. “If they have concerns or need troubleshooting, we can be there with them, and that builds a stronger partnership for the future.”

In cooperation with the Wheat Marketing Center, Portland, Ore., Oh (fourth from right) helped plan and conduct a Korea Baking Product Development course in 2019.

Sharing Knowledge

Oh’s individual efforts in the baking laboratory also come into play as he works to share the results of testing with Korean bakery customers. In 2017 at the Korean Baking School, Oh tested different blends of hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) flour to make sweet buns and blends of HRW and soft white flour to make Korean-style baguettes. He then provided data on the best formulations to customers.

Oh in the laboratory at the Korean Baking School, testing formulations of testing blends of HRW and SW flour for Korean-style baguettes and HRS and HRW flour for sweet buns in 2017.

Differentiating the performance of U.S. wheat in Korean noodles, however, has presented a unique challenge for Oh and for the U.S. farmers he represents.

“Compared to Australia, specifically, there is no single U.S. wheat class with optimal qualities for Korean style noodles,” he said. “So, we have approached that challenge by holding ‘Noodle Flour Blending and Quality’ seminars at the Wheat Marketing Center for as many industry participants as possible. Based on their reports about the seminars, our information has given them reasons to consider blending flour from U.S. wheat. Now, flour from U.S. soft white wheat makes up a 20 percent share of the Korean noodle market.”

An Excellent Balance

Undoubtedly, the level of trust Oh is developing across the diverse Korean industry is boosted by his professional training and experience.

“David has in-depth knowledge on the key facts of wheat flour that are very critical to end-product quality,” said the research and development manager from Korea’s largest instant noodle manufacturer. “I assume that comes from his graduate degree work and experience at SPC Group. He has provided all the results from short courses, seminars, and testing to us and helps us apply that information and U.S. wheat flour formulations effectively in our operation. We very much appreciate his efforts.”

It is said that the five flavors of kimchi (sour, bitter, salty, sweet, and spicy) and their balance permeates every facet of Korean life. Oh finds a similar balance between work and pleasure. His colleagues appreciate that in Oh, as those who have seen an exuberant rendition of the dance moves from K-Pop star PSY’s “Gangnam Style” or seen the pride he takes in his family can attest.

C.Y. Kang put it best: “David is a great asset to the entire USW organization.”


By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth 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: David Oh conducting a fresh noodle evaluation using U.S. hard white wheat flour blended with Australian Standard White flour at Daehan Flour Mills in Incheon, South Korea.


Meet the other USW Technical Experts in this blog series:

Ting Liu – Opening Doors in a Naturally Winning Way
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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Name: Tarik Gahi

Title: Milling and Baking Technologist

Office: USW Middle Eastern, East and North African Region, Casablanca Office

Providing Service to: North Africa and the Middle East


2018 – Running a Bread test at Atlantic Flour Mills in Morocco using 50% SRW + 50% HRW flour.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Milling and Baking Technologist Tarik Gahi has spent his entire career working with millers from around the world. But the first person to really make his career a passion was his mother.

“The main element on the breakfast, lunch, and dinner table in Morocco is bread. Growing up, my role at home was to follow my Mom’s instructions while helping her turn the wheat into bread. We would weigh 100 kilograms of the wheat stored in the roof, which was carefully hand cleaned, water washed, and spread under the day sun for two days to dry out,” said Gahi. “Then I would take it to a traditional flour mill – meters from our house – and pass on the message that Mom sent with me: ‘Please make the flour coarser and separated from the bran.’ Because if you didn’t ask for it, the worker at the mill would produce whole wheat flour, and my Mom didn’t want the additional job of separating the bran. Without being aware of it, she was a miller.”

(L) Tarik with his Dad in 1985; (R) Tarik with his Mom in 1987

Gahi grew up in Beni Mellal, a small city in Morocco at the base of Taseemit Mountain and near the plains of Tadla, a region known for its olive, wheat, and orange production. He and his two sisters were raised by their father, a philosophy teacher and later a school director, and mother, a homemaker. Growing up, Gahi’s favorite subject was math, so he pursued and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Ibn Sinaa School in Beni Mellal, Morocco. When deciding what to pursue next, Gahi turned to his uncle, who had previously been the president of the first wheat importing group after the Moroccan wheat market liberalization in the late 1990s. His uncle introduced him to the Moroccan Milling Training Institute (IFIM) and shared with him something he would never forget.

He said, “Tarik, if you ask any Moroccan in the street why he wakes up every morning and goes to work, his answer is always going to be “for a piece of bread, son.” This means that wheat, flour, and bread are in our blood, and any business related to these three may lose at times but never dies.”

Following his uncle’s advice, Gahi studied milling engineering for two and a half years at IFIM, where he was introduced to USW, seeing its logo displayed throughout the school and meeting USW Regional Technical Director Peter Lloyd. After graduation, the top five students from the class, including Tarik, were offered a job in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with Al-Ghurair, one of the largest milling companies in the Middle East.

“At Al-Ghurair, I learned to be patient and never underestimate the people around you, no matter their position,” said Gahi.

After six years with Al-Ghurair, Gahi worked as a mill operation manager at Seaboard West Africa Limited in Sierra Leone for two years, which challenged his managerial skills and taught him the importance of building relationships with customers. Next, Gahi returned to his home country and served as a chief miller at a milling company in Casablanca for three years before finally joining USW in 2015.

2019 – Visiting Bakhresa Group in Tanzania for a trade servicing activity. Beside Tarik (far left) is Peter Muni, current Bakhresa group technical vice president and Gahi’s past colleague from their time together at Al Ghurair Group in UAE.

An Ambassador for U.S. Wheat

The first wheat Gahi ever milled was U.S. hard red winter (HRW) donated by USW through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Quality Samples Program (QSP).

“That marked my professional life a lot. The USW logo was engraved in my mind from my time at IFIM,” said Gahi. “I learned the basics of milling in a school built by USW, and to come back and work with the man who helped train me (Peter Lloyd), was something special. To technically convince people to use a product (wheat) that is a beautiful story for me is a job I want to do for the rest of my life. My story is with U.S. wheat.”

As a Milling and Baking Technologist, Gahi is involved in the development, service, and expansion of technical service for U.S. wheat and wheat products. He conducts cake and cookie courses in USW’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, inviting major regional soft wheat flour users to share with them the quality of U.S. soft wheat and demonstrate its functionality as an ingredient.

2019 – Touring the Bakhresa Mill in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and answering one of the chief miller’s questions about flour extraction and bran.

The MENA region is a wide geographic area comprised of widely differing milling and baking industries. From bakers in large cookie processing companies in Egypt to large flour mills in the UAE, North and West Africa, Gahi is equally at home carrying the message of what benefits U.S. wheat can provide customers.

“My job is to represent U.S. wheat growers in our region, and USW provides the necessary tools and conditions to help me pass on the farmer message to existing and potential customers,” said Gahi.

Through QSP, the same program that Gahi encountered in his first milling training, he now trains other young millers in processing U.S. wheat and helps introduce bakers and biscuit manufacturers to the right flour ingredient for their products.

“Tarik has a really good basic grounding in flour milling technology, upon which he has added layers of technical experience both overseas and in Morocco,” said Lloyd. “He has worked in both large and small mills, both new and older plants, and has furthermore added layers of mill management, quality control, and baking expertise to his basket of skills.”

Tarik Gahi explains variations in a QSP sample during a training at IFIM in 2018.

“Tarik is doing a great job providing technical support,” said a research and development regional manager with a large snack food company in Morocco. “He brings positive and great values to the baking industry through his regular visits and always supports us when needed. We have benefited from his bakery seminars and biscuit trainings.”

Gahi also spends time meeting with bakers and millers across the MENA region to get updates on each country’s market and help troubleshoot their technical problems. These meetings give him the opportunity to build stronger relationships among U.S. wheat customers and helps identify new needs and possible customers in each market.

“Gahi brings a lot of clarification and precious advice to cereals professionals along the supply chain by emphasizing the advantages of U.S. wheat compared to other origins and helps them adapt their practices to extract the most value. And he does that all in three languages,” said a supply chain manager with a grain agency in Algeria. “It is a great honor to work and collaborate with Tarik. His value is characterized by a great education, a great dedication to his work, and a developed professional sense, which all make him an excellent ambassador for U.S. wheat.”

Family

As his mentor, Peter Lloyd has watched Gahi interact with customers and how his unique blend of skills as a “people person” and his ability to communicate in English, Arabic, and French has positively impacted many cultures and markets.

“A major part of the job is the ability to communicate effectively across a very wide range of people, from millionaire industry giants to cleaners in a mill – and here Tarik once again excels,” said Lloyd. “He has an innate ability to communicate with people in our region, putting all at ease and, most importantly – listening effectively. He is just a great guy to work with.”

A USW technical manager trip to the USDA-ARS Soft Wheat Quality Laboratory in Ohio in 2016. Pictured (L to R) Peter Lloyd, USW; Marcelo Mitre, USW; Byung-Kee Baik, USDA-ARS; Brad Moffitt, Ohio Corn & Wheat; and Tarik Gahi, USW.

Lloyd is very proud that his student, colleague, and understudy has become a part of the legacy Lloyd will eventually leave behind.

“As the person who has helped introduce Tarik to U.S. Wheat Associates and perhaps worked more closely with him than anyone – I can say that the future of technical support into the MENA region and across Africa is in excellent hands with Tarik.”

For Gahi, who enjoys playing chess and cycling in his free time (though he says he is tired of being beaten every time he plays chess), family is his most important interest. He is a husband and a father of two small children, but family will always be also woven into his passion for his career.

Tarik and his son.

“Every time I think about my career history, I think about my Mom, Uncle, U.S. Wheat Associates, and Peter Lloyd. If I were asked to give U.S. Wheat Associates a new name, I would simply add the word “family” – U.S. Wheat Associates Family,” said Gahi. “Since I joined USW, I have felt like a member of a family. People care, people respect each other, and people do what it takes to make the family happy.”


By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth 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: Tarik Gahi (far left) with USW colleagues Mark Fowler, Ian Flagg and Peter Lloyd at the IAOM MEENA meeting in 2017.


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

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

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

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

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

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Many years of work conducting trade service and technical support in South Asian countries like Myanmar (Burma) showed U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) there was a growing opportunity to compete with nearby Australian wheat supplies. Knowing two deep-water ports were opening in Myanmar in 2019, USW intensified its activities. In mid-May 2019, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service representatives were on hand to welcome the first bulk grain vessel to dock at one of the ports loaded with 22,000 metric tons (MT) of high-quality U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat purchased by a local flour mill.

With funding from the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, USW has provided technical and trade servicing to mills and bakeries in Myanmar for more than 20 years.  With the ability only to take container loads, U.S. wheat had to compete with less expensive supplies shipped mainly from nearly Australia. Still, its political situation was changing and consumer purchasing power was growing.

To lay the groundwork for U.S. wheat bulk shipments to customers in Myanmar, USW hosted a workshop on FGIS inspection and certification in marketing year 2017/18 for three milling companies and government officials. USW separately brought in a private trading company and the FAS staff in Yangon to brief the Myanmar Plant Protection Department about the bulk U.S. wheat export supply system. The briefing provided information that helped increase the confidence in purchasing and handling U.S. bulk wheat shipments.

The vessel New Journey carrying 22,000 metric tons of U.S. HRS at berth in Thilawa port at Yangon, Myanmar, May 2019.

Technical training continued with seven individuals from Myanmar baking companies who participated at their companies’ expense in three USW-sponsored baking courses at the UFM Baking School in Bangkok, Thailand, between May and July 2018. In a survey about their participation, these customers said they planned to demand flour produced from U.S. HRS wheat in their processing plants. And in December 2018, USW Bakery Consultant Roy Chung made a technical service call on a milling and wheat food processor in Myanmar to provide additional information on the potential value in milling U.S. HRS for bread flour and blending for other products.

In 2019/20, USW will apply funding from the FMD program to bring purchasing managers from selected Myanmar flour mills to the United States for a course called “Contracting for Value.” Participation will help the milling executives quantify the economic value of U.S. wheat classes and will help them understand possible adjustments in contract specifications to enhance that value.

Myanmar-based customers are embracing the benefits of working with imported U.S. wheat. Exports of HRS and soft white (SW) wheat to Myanmar grew from 26,300 MT in 2017/18 to about 65,000 MT in 2018/19. USW will continue to provide valuable trade and technical support there and throughout the growing wheat markets in South Asia.

*Header Photo Caption: Myanmar International Terminal Thilawa (MITT)

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) with the support of several export market development programs administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), has built a team of very effective end-product technical experts in Korea and Taiwan. These are very sophisticated markets with many different wheat foods. Now, USW is sharing that product and technical knowledge to help customers in the Republic of the Philippines introduce new products in a market that is hungry for innovation.

In 2018, for example, USW worked with a large flour mill in the Philippines to plan a customer appreciation learning visit to observe innovations in the Korean baking industry. USW’s representatives in Seoul set up meetings for the team of 19 customers at Korean bakeries where they saw new products and formulations made with flour from U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat.

USW chose that milling customer for this activity knowing that Bakery World 2018, the first bakery trade show in the miller’s region, was scheduled for October 2018 where the organization would be very visible on behalf of U.S. wheat farmers. At the show with more than 6,000 bakers and allied industry representatives, USW’s Korea Country Director CY Kang presented a look at bakery trends in Korea. USW Korea Food and Bakery Technologist David Oh demonstrated production methods for five different types of breads currently popular in the Korean market. USW Manila Bakery Consultant Gerry Mendoza made a presentation on bakery operations.

With additional support from three state wheat commissions, USW also hosted 30 Philippine managers at a noodle production workshop presented by USW Taipei Asian Food Technologist Shu-Ying “Sofia” Yang in Taiwan. Yang demonstrated how milling U.S. soft white (SW) wheat yields both high quality cake flour and higher protein “clear” flour that is ideal for bright white noodles.

Participants at the 2019 Korean Bakery Workshop.

Using funding from FAS’ newly implemented Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, USW’s Manila and Seoul offices collaborated on a Korean Bakery Workshop held in Seoul, South Korea in June 2019. USW designed the workshop as a service to 30 additional Philippine bakers and millers to familiarize them with Korean products, formulations and production methods.

Sharing product knowledge and technical expertise across regions is just one of the ways USW demonstrates its commitment of service to its customers on behalf of the wheat farmers it represents.

*Header Photo Caption: Participants at the 2018 Philippine Noodle Course in Taiwan