As a wheat farmer and dietician from Maryland, Jennie Schmidt found exploring flour mills and bakeries in Asia to be an intriguing adventure that came with plenty of “ah-ha” moments.

There is lots to be learned from meeting and talking to the people who buy and use U.S. wheat.

“It was nice to be able to see your product going into products both in Vietnam and in China,” Schmidt, who represented Maryland Grain Producers on the recent U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Vietnam-China Board Team mission. “To see how wheat grown on our farms in the U.S. ends up as food for domestic consumption or for regional export markets helps paint the picture and show the value of international trade. It was also obvious they really like producing food products with U.S. wheat.”

Schmidt joined USW Secretary-Treasurer Jim Pellman of McClusky, North Dakota, and Mark Jossund of Moorhead, Minnesota, on the Board Team, which was led by USW West Coast Office Assistant Director Luke Muller.

Scenes from the group’s stops in both Vietnam and China can be seen in this brief video . . .

The 2024 USW Vietnam-China Board Team (left to right): USW Secretary-Treasurer Jim Pellman (North Dakota), Jennifer Schmidt (Maryland), Mark Jossund (Minnesota) and USW West Coast Office Assistant Director Luke Muller.

The 2024 USW Vietnam-China Board Team returned to the U.S. on March 30. Pictured (left to right): USW Secretary-Treasurer Jim Pellman (North Dakota), Jennifer Schmidt (Maryland), Mark Jossund (Minnesota) and USW West Coast Office Assistant Director Luke Muller.

Wheat farmers from Maryland, Minnesota and North Dakota toured flour mills and bakeries in Vietnam, getting a close look at how U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works with customers to promote U.S. wheat. The group also traveled to Guangzhou, China, where it met with grain traders and attended the 40th anniversary of the Sino American Baking School (SABO).

Many Important Stops for Farmers

A lot of ground was covered on the week-long mission – literally and figuratively.

“Vietnam and China are two very distinct markets. The team saw the different ways different classes of U.S. wheat are being used by our customers. The farmers were also able to witness the strong relationships USW has built with key industry leaders in both places,” said USW West Coast Office Assistant Director Luke Muller. Muller led the USW 2024 Vietnam and China Board Team.

Working close with the millers and bakers allows USW to strengthen those relationships even more, Muller explained.

“There is a lot of interaction,” Muller said. “The farmers were able to pick up on that.”

Maryland, Minnesota and North Dakota

Making up the team were farmers representing various classes of U.S. wheat. USW Secretary-Treasurer Jim Pellman of McClusky, North Dakota; Jennifer Schmidt of Sudlersville, Maryland; and Mark Jossund of Moorhead, Minnesota, began the journey by meeting at the USW office in Portland. They then attended a Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) briefing on grain grading. Before departing for Vietnam, the team toured the United Grain export elevator in Vancouver, Washington.

More details of specific activities the team participated in while in Vietnam and China – including special attention to the Sino-American Baking School (SABS) anniversary event – will follow in upcoming editions of the Wheat Letter. A video of the trip will also be shared.

The team toured flour mills and bakeries in Vietnam and China. The trip allowed wheat farmers to meet and interact with their customers in both countries.

The team toured flour mills and bakeries in Vietnam and China. The trip allowed wheat farmers to meet and interact with their customers in both countries.

Mills, Bakeries and Customers

Meanwhile, some highlights of the trip:

  • The team visited Vimaflour. It was the first mill opened in northern Vietnam and one of the largest in the country. The team also visited Vietnam Flour Mill, which is part of Wilmar, the largest regional miller in Southeast Asia and China.
  • Team members were able to explore a small, family-owned Bahn Mi bakery in Hanoi, Vietnam. “Bread loaves have a very short shelf life and can only serve the population in close proximity to them,” Muller explained. “These independent bakeries have benefited from the technical servicing USW offers. USW and local millers have shown how blending in up to 30% U.S. dark northern spring (DNS) wheat can help with loaf strength for the overnight fermentation process they utilize.”
  • The team learned how USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung has worked with Libra Biscuit Factory. The business has grown quickly and now exports its cookies and biscuits to more than 20 countries. Some of the cookies sold by Libra are made with 100% U.S. soft white (SW) wheat. Among other things, Chung has helped the company’s bakers develop products and is currently helping them formulate a new soda cracker.
  • In China, the team met with Huaren Trading Company, where conversation was focused on U.S. wheat farmers and the U.S. supply chain compared to competitors.
  • The team also toured Philip’s moon cake factory, which produces over 600,000 moon cakes a day during its peak production.

Stay tuned for more stories from the trip in upcoming editions of the Wheat Letter.


U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) continued a tradition of promoting the value of U.S. agricultural products together with other USDA Foreign Agricultural Service cooperator organizations by co-hosting the annual U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference Sept. 12 to 14, 2023, in Da Nang, Vietnam. This conference is designed as a value-added service for Southeast Asian buyers served by USW, and co-hosts U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC).

USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers on a panel at the 2023 U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference

USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers participated in a panel discussion of U.S. cooperator leaders at the 2023 U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference.

“Our collaboration with these organizations on conferences in South and Southeast Asia not only increases opportunities to connect with our milling customers in the region, but also with grain trade and other industry representatives,” said Regional Vice President Joe Sowers who represented USW and the conference. “Many flour millers in the region also have feed milling operations, so this conference leverages the investments of all three host organizations to educate and increase positive contact with regional stakeholders.”

Building Bridges, Sharing Knowledge

Titled “Globalization 2.0: Building Bridges for Food Security, Sustainability, and Innovation,” the conference in Da Nang covered the global challenges identified in its name and, according to USGC, emphasized “the need to build bridges that facilitate collaboration, sharing knowledge, and acting on common issues.”

“It is very important that customers hear the message that U.S. farmers are producing safe, reliable and abundant supplies of wheat, feed grains and oilseeds,” Sowers said. “Vietnam, for example, is a quickly growing market with an exploding middle class eager to consume more and better-quality wheat-based foods.”

Vietnam’s annual milling wheat imports are more than 2 million metric tons and growing at a similar rate in the South and Southeast region.

Visit the USGC website for more information about the 2023 Southeast Asia U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference.

USW's . The 2023 South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference will be held May 9-11 in Phuket, Thailand.

The 2023 South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference will be held May 9-11 in Phuket, Thailand.

After more than a decade of absence, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is restarting an event that brings together customers and partners in an important region of the world. The 2023 South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference will be held May 9-11 in Phuket, Thailand.

“Building Prosperity Through Partnership” is the theme of the conference, which will focus on the value of U.S. wheat and people who produce, supply and support it in the global marketplace. Asian millers, buyers and importers in the region will have the opportunity to meet with U.S. wheat farmers, state wheat associations, USDA representatives and USW technical and marketing staff. Likewise, those from the U.S. wheat industry will be able to interact with customers and potential customers.

The conference will include input from major flour mills in the region, with a panel discussion focused on the perspective of millers in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

“We recognized that the time had come to revitalize the conference to engage the trade and visit with our dedicated customers in the region,” said Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President for South and Southeast Asia. “At the same time, there are opportunities to make new customers while also tackling challenges and identifying ideas for business growth. We have a top-notch lineup of speakers and presenters, along with a host of panel discussions that address critical issues in 2023 and beyond.”

USW’s Wheat Letter Blog will provide regular updates from the conference. Videos and blog posts will appear on the site throughout the event.


Name: Kong Song “Ivan” Goh

Title: Biscuit/Bakery and Noodle Technologist

Office: USW South Asia Regional Office, Singapore

Providing Service to: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam

Regional Profile: Rapidly rising disposable income and urbanization in South Asia are opening markets for baked goods, biscuits, cakes, and other foods that require more types of higher-quality flour. As the milling and wheat foods industries rush to increase capacity, USW is helping them improve and expand product lines using high-quality soft white (SW) for cake, biscuit, and confectionery flour, and U.S. hard red winter (HRW) and hard red spring (HRS) for bread flour. USW also conducts baking seminars to introduce new products with higher profit margins using flour milled from U.S. wheat.

Common Roots

From far southern Myanmar and southwest Thailand, the Asian continent continues south as the Malay Peninsula to include Western Malaysia and Singapore near its southern tip. Northwest of Kuala Lumpur is the Malaysian state of Malacca. This area has gained a certain notoriety among South Asian wheat food producers as the source of valuable technical support from long-time U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Baking Consultant Roy Chung and now USW Biscuit/Bakery and Noodle Technologist Ivan Goh.

“Roy and I were born in the same hometown in Malacca,” Goh said. “Roy’s father ran a bakery, and my story starts with my family, too. My mum earned a living by selling bite-size snacks called Kuih-muih and fried spring rolls called Popiah. I was nine years old when I started helping her make and sell her food. My interest in cooking and food preparation grew from there. In fact, most of my family members are in food-related work.”

Goh went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the University of Putra Malaysia, and his talent landed him two job offers even before he graduated in 2012. He said because he is “not a shy person who can do routine jobs,” he chose a technical service position with FFM Berhad in Port Klang, Malaysia, that would expose him to as many parts of the flour milling and baking industries as possible.

“The knowledge I gained there has been very valuable,” he said. “I especially enjoyed the opportunities in technical troubleshooting and handling customer complaints.”

He added that the company always taught its colleagues to appreciate the people who helped them in their work, an experience that would prove important to Goh’s next career opportunity.

An Introduction to USW

USW first crossed paths with Ivan Goh when Roy Chung conducted a USW baking workshop at FFM Berhad in 2014. In 2015, the company sent Ivan to one of the popular USW baking courses Chung developed and led with the UFM Baking & Cooking School in Bangkok, Thailand. USW Regional Vice President Matt Weimar was also there to identify potential candidates to fill a vacant technical position in USW’s South Asian Region.

“Ivan Goh was one of the individuals who stood out in terms of their work and leadership,” Weimar said. “He also impressed Roy, so we decided to follow his career path until it was the right time to invite him to work for our organization.”

That opportunity emerged early in 2018, and Goh has been representing U.S. wheat farmers in the South Asian region since last March.

“The wheat foods industry is rapidly expanding in the region, and we knew Ivan’s experience in quality assurance and control was ideal to help flour mills, bakeries, cookie/cracker, and confectionery processors better understand the quality, value, and use of U.S. wheat flour,” said Weimar. “We set up an active development schedule for Ivan. It started with Ivan shadowing Roy at the USW baking classes at UFM, then on an extended technical service visit with Roy to several flour mills and baking customers in Indonesia.”

On the Road

Goh, who is fluent in several languages spoken in the region, participated with millers from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam in a USW Contracting for Value workshop and joined Weimar as co-host of a regional trade team that visited Washington state, Idaho, and Montana last August. That schedule keeps Goh mostly away from a home office in Kuala Lumpur and the USW South Asia regional office in Singapore. But he is very excited about the opportunity.

“Roy Chung is a legend as a teacher and technical resource in this region,” Goh said. “I never imagined that one day I would be his colleague. Another thing that impressed me is that USW is the only wheat organization that invites overseas millers to evaluate the quality of every U.S. wheat crop and sincerely listens to their feedback. That must be part of the working culture because I am also free to voice my opinions.”

Late in 2018, there was additional, extensive training for Goh as a student in Class 193 of the 16-week Baking Science and Technology Course at the AIB Institute in Manhattan, Kan.

“Our goal is to help customers improve their product lines and manage cost risks, so the course further strengthened my confidence in helping large-scale bakeries,” Ivan said. “In addition, seeing the performance and benefits of using flour from U.S. wheat classes firsthand will help me demonstrate how customers can get the most value possible from those flour products in their own bakeries.”

“Ivan received a medal as the fourth-ranked student in the class and was recognized with one of the Bakery Equipment Manufacturers Association awards recognizing ‘Excellence in Laboratory Leadership Performance,” Weimar said. “The relationships he developed with his fellow students will also be very valuable in the future.”

Weimar noted that Ivan Goh has had a very productive first year with U.S. Wheat Associates, adding “we are proud of Ivan’s progress, and we look forward to many more successful technical support activities to come. That is a commitment to our South Asian customers and the U.S. wheat farmers we are proud to represent.”

By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the first 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
 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