Be they students working toward a college degree in grain science or wheat professionals on campus for a quick lesson, thousands have experienced the sights, sounds and smells of wheat being milled into flour inside Shellenberger Hall at Kansas State University’s (KSU).

It won’t be long before the final kernels are gristed, separated and sifted inside the six decades-old building, which has been instrumental in the education and development of milling experts around the world.

Shellenberger Hall, long the center of the Kansas State University’s Grain Science and Industry program, will be torn down, according to KSU’s College of Agriculture. Earlier this month, KSU announced plans to upgrade facilities, including construction of a Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation Center. While it will not be built on the current site of Shellenberger Hall, the new facility will become the centerpiece of the grain program. According to KSU’s plans, the Innovation Center will be built to the west of the Grain Science Complex that includes the Hal Ross Flour Mill, O.H. Kruse Feed Mill, International Grains Program (IGP) Institute and other facilities.

Currently, Shellenberger houses the milling science pilot classroom. Teaching mills are located on the first floor, along with the Baking Science Lab.

Photo shows the flour milling classroom at Kansas State University (KSU) Shellenberger Hall with industry students test milling flour.

Currently, KSU’s Shellenberger Hall houses the milling science pilot classroom. Teaching mills are located on the first floor (above during a recent education program for U.S. industry and farmers, along with the Baking Science Lab.

Long and Storied History

“KSU’s Department of Grain Science and Industry has a long and storied history of career pathways into the flour milling industry worldwide and research and promotion of U.S.-grown wheat,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. “It’s exciting to see this new investment in infrastructure that will further enhance not only the student experience but the capacity for wheat industry engagement, research, and promotion of U.S. wheat usage and exports.”

This important addition to KSU’s Grain Science and Industry program holds promise toward reverse a trend in declining enrollment in flour milling and baking industry management programs.

Shellenberger Hall, named after John Shellenberger, head of KSU’s Department of Flour and Feed Milling from 1944 to 1966, has been a key waypoint for KSU graduates – and others. State wheat associations and organizations such as U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) regularly send staff and board members to KSU to learn the details of flour milling in short courses offered by KSU and IGP. In all cases, Shellenberger Hall has been instrumental in milling education.

Bigger Reach and Impact

“Walk into any flour mill in the United States and you’ll likely find a graduate from KSU’s milling science program presiding over the operation,” Arvin Donley, editor of World Grain, wrote in a recent editorial on the university’s plans. “Many of the industry’s future leaders will pass through the milling program, which is why having top-notch academic facilities to attract prospective students will not only benefit the university but the flour milling industry as well. The program also has sent hundreds of graduates to flour mills around the world over the years, making it a program with a truly global impact.”

An artist rendering of a new Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation Center at Kansas State University.

An artist rendering of a new Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation Center at Kansas State University. Construction is scheduled to start in 2024. Courtesy of Kansas State University.

Dr. Ernie Minton, dean of KSU’s College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension, said the project will begin with construction of an agronomy center that will house the field research component of the Department of Agronomy, including the wheat breeding program, and renovations to the Department of Animal Science’s Weber Hall and Call Hall. That project is expected to be completed in 2024. Construction of the new Global Grain and Food Innovation Center is scheduled to follow.

The photo at the top of this page, courtesy of Kansas State University, is an artist’s rendering of a proposed building at Kansas State University to replace Shellenberger Hall for the Department of Grain Science and Industry.

USW will follow the progress of this exciting addition to KSU’s programs and share more information as it is available.

By USW Director of Communications Ralph Loos


Everyone at U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), Kansas Wheat, and the entire U.S. wheat industry are shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of our colleague Mark Fowler at his home in Manhattan, Kansas, on Feb. 20, 2023. Mark joined USW in 2017 and was Vice President of Global Technical Services.

Mark Fowler portrait

Mark Fowler, 1970 – 2023

Mark was 52 years old and is survived by his wife Courtney, their daughters Piper and Paige, his mother Ruth Fowler, and his sisters Rhonda (Scott) Gordon and Amy Fowler. Funeral services were held on Saturday, February 25, at 10:30 a.m., at the College Avenue United Methodist Church, Manhattan, Kansas. Obituary and memorial information are posted at Condolences may also be sent to, mailed to Kansas Wheat, 1990 Kimball Ave, Manhattan, KS 66502, or emailed to to be shared with the family.

“Mark’s passing is a great personal and professional loss for our organization and the wheat farmers we serve,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “Mark embraced his work and our mission with enthusiasm; as a result, our technical experts are better equipped and motivated partners for our many customers across the world. Our most sincere sympathy goes out to Mark’s family and to the wheat community he loved.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark in various capacities in the wheat industry over the past 20 years,” said Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat CEO. “His impact and network of friends reached around the globe. He was a strong asset to the U.S. wheat industry and farmers, and a friend that will be dearly missed.”

Mark Fowler grew up on his family’s farm near Emporia, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Milling Science and Management from Kansas State University (K-State), and later returned to complete a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics.

His career began as a flour miller first for Cargill, Inc., and then Seaboard Corp. In those roles, Mark ran flour mills, worked on projects in several developing countries, including Ecuador, Guyana, and Haiti, and worked as a technical director of the Africa Division within Seaboard’s Overseas Group in Durban, South Africa. Later, he spent 12 years back at K-State as a milling specialist and associate director at the IGP Institute, in the university’s Grain Science and Industry department.

As a highly respected flour milling expert, Mark also served as a technical milling consultant for USW, as well as the Northern Crops Institute (NCI), allowing him to become well acquainted with many USW staff and overseas customers.

Before joining USW, originally as Vice President of Overseas Operations, Mark was the President and CEO of Farmer Direct Foods, Inc. a farmer-owned, flour milling company in New Cambria, Kansas.

Mark Fowler with flour millers in Taiwan.

Mark Fowler served as a respected milling consultant, here with customers at a flour mill in Taiwan, before joining USW in 2017 .

“Throughout my career, I have experienced the global impact of the milling industry from several perspectives,” Mark said when he joined USW. “I am excited to engage with friends and colleagues in the industry to advance the U.S. wheat export market development mission.”

Mark most certainly did advance USW’s mission through his dedicated service, mentoring and friendship. The photo at the top of this page shows Mark with colleagues Ady Redondo, USW Manila; David Oh, USW Seoul, Roy Chung, USW Singapore; Marcelo Mitre, USW Mexico City; Joe Bippert, USW Manila; and Wei-Lin Chou, USW Taipei. All his colleagues will miss him deeply.



News and Information from Around the U.S. Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

Jim Pellman brings a broad skill set in agriculture and wheat production to the officer team at USW and follows earlier NDWC members who served as USW officers and Chairs during the past four decades: J. Ole Sampson of Lawton, Cecil Watson of Cavalier, Alan Lee of Berthold, and Brian O’Toole of Crystal, North Dakota.” Neal Fisher, Administrator, North Dakota Wheat Commission. Pellman was elected to serve as USW Secretary-Treasurer starting in July 2023 for 2023/24.

Photo Above: Wheat Leaders Greet Members of Congress

National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President Nicole Berg (left) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Chair Rhonda K. Larson (right) greet Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee (center) at the “Wheat 106” educational event and reception Jan. 13, 2023.  At the event, growers and industries engaged in wheat production and processing informed Members of Congress and their staff about how vast and important the wheat value chain is to the U.S. economy and food supply.

Snow Makes Grain

Over 2 meters (78 inches) of snow this winter has eased farmer Lee Lubbers’ moisture concerns about his South Dakota wheat crop. After a four month stretch last summer and fall with almost no measurable precipitation, “the snow will provide the moisture we need to get our [winter] wheat crop off to a good start. This was a big concern as 2022 came to an end,” Lubbers told Successful Farming. In 2022, South Dakota farmers produced about 1.1 million metric tons of hard red winter and hard red spring wheat.

Call for Entries in “Greater Grain” National Wheat Yield Contest

The National Wheat Yield Contest (NWYC) is accepting entries for 2023. Farmers growing winter, spring, irrigated or dryland wheat are encouraged to get their entries in now. There are a couple of changes to this year’s contest rules. There is now only one deadline and one price for entries per growing season. Winter wheat entries are due May 15, 2023, and spring wheat entries are due August 1, 2023. Read more here.

Congratulations to Dr. Brett Carver on Receiving OSU Eminent Faculty Award

“As leader of the Wheat Improvement Team, Dr. Carver has unparalleled success in the development of plant variety cultivars with a record five wheat varieties in 2020,” said Tom Coon, vice president and dean of Oklahoma State University’s college of agriculture. Carver collaborates with the Wheat Foods Council to advocate for wheat and to educate the public on wheat products through a video series. He served on trade team delegations for U.S. Wheat Associates and the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and has been named a Fellow in both the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy. Read an interview with Dr. Carver here.

Past Chair of House Ag Committee Named Wheat Leader

Rep. David Scott receives National Wheat Leader of the Year award from NAWG President Berg.

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) named U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-GA) its 2022 Wheat Leader of the Year Award for his work as the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee during the 117th Congress. “We appreciate all the work Rep. Scott does on behalf of wheat farmers and are proud to present him with the 2022 Wheat Leader of the Year Award,” said NAWG President and Washington wheat farmer Nicole Berg. NAWG also presented six other Members of Congress with its Wheat Advocate Award for their support in 2022. Read more here.

UK Farmer Sets Guinness World Record Wheat and Barley Yields

In 2022, United Kingdom grain grower Tim Lamyman, who farms 600 hectares in the county of Lincolnshire achieved a wheat yield of 17.96 metric tons (MT)/hectare (267 bu/acre), beating the previous record of 17.40 MT (259 bu/acre) from New Zealand farmer Eric Watson in 2020. He also registered a barley yield of 16.21 MT (310 bu/acre) to the hectare, beating his own world record by two metric tons. Read more here.

Research Shows Wheat is Good for Soil Health

Dr. Laura Van Eerd, professor of sustainable soil management at Canada’s University of Guelph-Ridgetown, has studied long-term soil characteristics and changes as part of research started in 1995. Of all treatment combinations, including wheat in a rotation has been the greatest factor in improved soil function over time, greatly increasing soil organic matter (SOM). Increasing organic matter in soils has implications for the soil’s water holding capacity and the soil’s nitrogen cycling capability. Listen to more in a Michigan State University Extension podcast.

USDA Funding Advances “Climate Smart” Farming

USDA is releasing the first $850 million in conservation program funding from the $18 billion provided by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to ramp up adoption of climate-smart farming practices. The new funding will be available through Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Provisions in the IRA require the new funding to be targeted toward practices that can build soil carbon and otherwise reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read more here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.


Instead of asking “what’s in store” for crackers and cookies and other wheat-based snack foods in a post-COVID world, those in the U.S. wheat industry may want to ask the same question in a slightly modified way.

What’s in the store?

When COVID hit in 2020, international consumers had already been drawn to convenient foods that fit snacking lifestyles. Boxes of crackers were tucked into office drawers. Sleeves of cookies – often referred to as “biscuits” in some foreign markets – were slid into backpacks. While work routines and travel screeched to a halt, snacking habits sped forward. In fact, market research over the past year has indicated that, in many countries, on-the-go snacking is now preferred over traditional sit-down meals, especially by younger consumers.

This movement was aptly labeled “Snackification.” It’s changing the look of grocery and supermarket shelves around the world.

It’s also creating potential opportunities for U.S. wheat.

A 2022 survey by Euromonitor International revealed growing numbers of global consumers who look for snacks when shopping for food.

A 2022 survey by Euromonitor International revealed growing numbers of global consumers who look for snacks when shopping for food.

Snack ‘Em if You Got ‘Em

A Euromonitor survey conducted in 2022 showed South Asia as having the most robust snacking habits. About 45% of Vietnamese consumers surveyed indicated that when shopping for food, they “look for snacks that are convenient to take and eat outside the home.” Roughly 38% of consumers in the Philippines responded the same way. The survey revealed that in Latin America, Colombia had the highest number of outside-the-home snackers with 37%. Brazil was close behind at 36%.

As a comparison, and for perspective, fewer than 30% of consumers in the U.S. were focused on snacking while shopping for food.

Those who study global consumer trends expect the new generation of “snackificators” to munch its way into the future.

“Snack brands already had a large portion of the breakfast category – breakfast bars, breakfast cakes and pastries, and so on – but with consumer preferences changing during COVID, snack foods are now intentionally being positioned as meal replacements throughout the entire day,” offered Carl Quash, head of Snacks and Nutrition for Euromonitor International, an independent market research firm based in London.

Quash, who oversees packaged snack research and analysis in more than 100 markets worldwide, presented a webinar titled “Snackification: The Future of Occasions to USDA stakeholders on Jan. 30.

“Snacking is likely to increase as people become busier and more mobile, and as they feel more comfortable in traveling once pandemic fears fade for good,” said Quash. “Add to that the fact many consumers are now replacing meals with snacks – they snack throughout the day instead of sitting down for a meal.”

Market research has shown increased demand for snack foods, as the dining habits of global consumers continue to evolve.

Market research has shown increased demand for snack foods, as the dining habits of global consumers continue to evolve. USW continues to work with millers and bakers around the world to help in the development of new snack food products made with U.S. wheat and the improvement of existing products.

An Opportunity Knocking?

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) recognized the new shift, even before snackification became a buzzword. USW’s offices around the world have long been involved in helping develop new snack products made with U.S. wheat, while also helping improve and promote existing products in all markets.

USW promotes the quality advantages of all six U.S. wheat classes. For snack foods, soft red winter (SRW) wheat and soft white (SW) wheat are most commonly used. But hard white (HW) wheat, hard red winter (HRW) wheat and hard red spring (HRS) wheat each are a quality ingredient – ether for snack foods and breads, or as part of flour blends to produce snack foods.

Wheat can also be used in other forms to make snack products. Flaked or puffed wheat is commonly used to manufacture breakfast cereals and cereal snack bars. Wheat bran is added to biscuits, cakes, muffins and breads to increase the dietary fiber content. Wheat germ can be added to breads, pastries and biscuits, or sprinkled onto yogurt, breakfast cereal or fruit dishes to increase the B-Vitamin, protein and fiber content.

USW also provides millers and bakers around the world technical support, including assistance in applying Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) analysis to better predict performance characteristics of flour for cookies, crackers and cakes.

USW Bakery Consultant Roy Chung says consumers in Asia are more and more interested in quick, "on the go" foods - crackers, cookies and even sometimes as simple as a slice of bread with various toppings.

USW Bakery Consultant Roy Chung says consumers in Asia are more and more interested in “on the go” foods – crackers, cookies and even something as simple as a slice of bread with toppings.

A ‘Wheat Team’ Effort, Here and Abroad

“Snackification is definitely a thing in the Philippines, with bread being primarily used for snack foods,” said Joe Bippert, USW Associate Regional Director in South Asia. “All across the region, there are many, many products that have fallen into the snack category, some traditional like crackers and cookies, and some new. We are working with buyers, millers and bakers to make sure U.S. wheat is part of this snackification movement. We also continue to work with our partners to develop new products with U.S. wheat.”

One of those partners is the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC). Based in Portland, Oregon, the WMC regularly conducts research projects on snack food-related topics and wheat flour formulations. USW offices around the world connect snack food makers to the WMC, which works to develop new products to meet changing consumer demands for attributes such as lower sugar or salt, new flavors or even different shapes of crackers, cookies, cakes, breads and other snacks.

A Universal Phenomenon

No one seems to know who created the term “snackification,” but it began appearing in trade journals and food blogs a decade ago. As it did then, today it is used to describe a trend in which consumers snack in place of meals.

A Harris Poll survey commissioned by Mondelēz International last year polled consumers in 12 countries. It found that more than 55% of consumers “nibbled frequently throughout the day” in place of three standard meals, while 71% said they snacked at least twice each day.

Mondelēz International’s fourth annual “State of Snacking” report that “snacking increasingly replaces traditional meals in consumers’ lives.”

“Our State of Snacking report confirms that in these trying times, consumers around the world view their favorite snacks as affordable and necessary indulgences,” Dirk Van de Put, Chairman and CEO of Mondelēz International, noted in the report. “Snacking continues to be a way for consumers to connect or to enjoy a moment of delight in their day, further demonstrating our belief that every snack can be enjoyed in a mindful way.”

Looking back, it is clear urbanization drove snackification, Quash explained.

“Convenience and portability were key due to time pressures and a culture where people were constantly under constraints and were looking for foods to eat while on the go, foods they could eat on their way to the office or in the office while working,” he said. “Although people are still spending more time at home than they did pre-pandemic, snacking has become part of the routine.”

Crackers, Cookies, Biscuits . . . and Bread, Too

In some cases, foods just changed roles. One key consumer trend for U.S. wheat is the fact that breads that were once a big part of traditional sit-down meals are in some countries being used to anchor snack time.

Roy Chung, USW Bakery Consultant based in Singapore, said consumers in Asian countries are walking into retail stores looking for “simple and fast.” In many cases, how the foods are packaged is the biggest factor.

“When it comes to wheat, products range from simple slices of bread made into different types of sandwiches, or just plain bread spread with margarine and topped with sugar, then packaged to eat on the move,” Chung explained. “There are buns with different kinds of fillings, including steam-type buns. These are considered a snack that can fill you up without having to pause to prepare a meal. Grab it and go, as they say.”

Microwave-ready cakes and muffins, prepared in a paper cup and baked at the store, are common.

“In the cracker category, there is canned tuna or salmon or sardines packaged with a stack of crackers, which are popular for people taking a day trip or a bus ride somewhere and are eaten in place of lunch or even dinner,” said Chung. “All of these products are a showcase for the quality of U.S. wheat.”

Consumers shopping their local food store for snacks have other demands, too.

“The snacking trend remains based on convenience, but consumers around the world have become more focused on three things: mobility, value and health,” said Quash. “For the wheat industry, those are generally good things because wheat products tend to deliver on all three.”

By Ralph Loos, USW Director of Communications



As the COVID-19 pandemic fades into a not-so-distant memory, one can remember a time when “Supply Chain Disruptions” made every headline and container backlog in the Port of Long Beach required direct intervention from the U.S. government. Since the highs hit in the fall of 2021 freight prices have dropped to lows not seen since June 2020. Coupled with a recent break in wheat prices, decreased ocean freight costs have helped turn the tides back in the importers’ favor.

As Jay O’Neil of HJ O’Neil Commodity Consulting says, “the current outlook is not bullish, but vessel owners believe things must go up, as they don’t believe they can go lower…”

The Baltic Index price chart of dry bulk freight rates shows the impact on rates from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On February 6, the Baltic Dry Index hit 621, a level not seen since June 2020. The index has fallen 88% from its peak in October 2021. Source:

The China Effect

In recent years, dry bulk freight and Chinese economic growth have become interconnected. Dry bulk vessel sizes known as Handy (25,000 to 39,000 deadweight tons (dwt)), Handymax (40,000 to 49,999 dwt), and Panamax (60,000 – 78,999 dwt) that carry wheat and other grain cargos are also used to ship iron ore. And, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights, China accounts for almost 60% of dry bulk demand to help supply the country with over 1.1 billion MT of iron ore.

Until recently, however, China’s Zero Covid policy severely impacted economic growth. In 2022 China’s GDP growth slowed to 2.8% from 8.1% in 2021, thus diminishing iron ore demand by 2% as steelmaking slowed. With decreased Chinese vessel demand, freight rates have plummeted. As the seasonal lulls in economic activity around the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday dissipate, China remains a wildcard in global shipping as the country relaxes its COVID-19 restrictions, potentially opening the door for accelerating growth and industrial activity.


According to Lloyd’s List, in the fall of 2021, 5.7% of the world’s bulk fleet was anchored off Chinese ports due to strict quarantine requirements. As the global economy started its recovery from the pandemic, immense port congestion tied up hundreds of vessels, sending dry bulk freight soaring. Easing congestion in Chinese ports is expanding dry bulk capacity and will continue to play an essential role in freight markets in 2023, especially as China lifts more COVID-related restrictions.

Map showing massive vessel congestion around Chinese ports in 2021 that affected freight rates.

Port congestion in China supported the bulk carrier rates in 2021, with upwards of 600 vessels queued to load or discharge cargo. Source: Lloyds List Maritime Intelligence.

Vessel Supply and Demand

Over the last 13 years, the dry bulk vessel fleet has increased steadily, marking an average yearly increase of 4.8%, total growth of 53.8% since 2010. In 2022 dry bulk fleet growth slowed to 2.8% and is forecast to slow to 2.3% in 2023 (S&P Global, HJ O’Neil Commodity Consulting). Meanwhile, dry bulk demand declined by 1.9% in 2022 due to low iron ore and reduced grain shipments. If vessel supply continues to outpace demand, the downward pressure will continue to impact ocean freight.

Bar chart showing a 53% increase in the global dry bulk vessel fleet from 2007 to 2020 to show the effect on freight rates.

The bulk vessel fleet size had grown by 53.8% on a steady pace over the last decade. Source: Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd.

Oil Prices

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, oil prices skyrocketed as sanctions were placed against Russia, the world’s second largest oil produce. As oil prices increase, the fuel input cost for dry bulk vessels also increase, supporting freight prices. In the year since the invasion, oil prices have normalized, taking pressure off the market.

Will This Pattern Hold?

As the freight market continues in freefall, importers and exporters must ask if this pattern is sustainable. According to Breakwave Advisors “one of the slowest weeks of the year for Chinese activity is now behind us” as we move into February and past the Lunar New Year festivities. Vessel supply and demand, port congestion, oil prices, and the on-going supply chain disruptions will continue to impact the market as economies normalize post-COVID; however, China remains in the driver’s seat of global freight. The resilience of the Chinese economy will be put to the test as economic activity increases post COVID, but for now, the world is waiting and all eyes are on China.

By Tyllor Ledford, USW Market Analyst


By Matthew Weaver, Copyright © Capital Press, February 8, 2023, Excerpts Reprinted with Permission

Wheat prices “probably won’t be quite as good [for farmers]” in 2023 as they were last year, a top grain economist says.

“We won’t see last year’s prices, we’ll be several dollars short of that,” said Randy Fortenbery, the Thomas B. Mick Endowed Chair in Small Grain Economics at Washington State University, told farmers during the Spokane Ag Show. “We can’t be thinking we’re going to see 2022 wheat prices … unless there’s some other shock that’s not being anticipated.”

Soft white wheat ranged from $8.45 to $8.55 per bushel on the Portland market as of Feb. 8. Fortenbery advised farmers to be careful about assuming they’ll see prices above $10 a bushel. He expects wheat prices to trade within a $3 to $3.50 a bushel range. About $9.25 to $10 per bushel would be the high end, he said. [Editor’s Note: USDA lowered its February forecast of average farm gate wheat prices in 2023 to $9.00 per bushel.]

A Different of Opinion

The International Grains Council and USDA have conflicting forecasts for global wheat trade, Fortenbery said.

The council expects total world ending wheat stocks to be up 3% compared to last year and a 1.3% reduction in world wheat trade, which suggests a decline in prices. USDA projects world wheat stocks to be down 2.6% and trade to be up 5%, which suggests a price increase. Fortenbery said he leans toward the international council’s projections.

Both agencies agree the combination of Russia and Ukraine wheat exports will be up compared to last year. The flow of grain out of the Black Sea market appears to have stabilized the price impact of the conflict, Fortenbery said.

SW, SRW Back at Parity

The relationship between Portland white wheat prices and Chicago [soft red winter] wheat futures prices is returning to normal, after white wheat reached a peak of $3 above Chicago futures prices in recent years. The norm for Portland is closer to $1 above Chicago.

Because of the extreme difference, soft white prices didn’t respond last year when Russia invaded Ukraine, while Chicago [soft red winter] wheat prices “exploded,” rising to meet the higher white wheat prices, Fortenbery said. The relative prices are back in synch with each other, he said.

Line chart of USDA and U.S. Wheat Associates data showing wheat prices for soft white and soft red winter exports have converged to near parity in 2022/23.

U.S. soft white and SRW export prices have converged in 2022/23 to near-parity. Source: U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Price Report – February 3, 2023.

“If the Black Sea ends up being a problem again this spring, we’ll get some bump out of that,” he said.

The market doesn’t currently expect that, but risk remains, Fortenbery said.

Commodity prices generally look favorable in the next few months, but input costs are also at historic highs, Fortenbery said. Almost every major expense category was significantly higher last year compared to 2021; some were up to 60% or more.

He’ll be watching general inflation, which affects interest rates and production loans, and natural gas and refined fertilizer shipments from the Black Sea.

For additional information on U.S. wheat export price trends, see this Wheat Letter post from January 30, 2023: Wheat Prices Trend Lower Even As Uncertainty Continues.


News and Information from Around the U.S. Wheat Industry


Speaking of Wheat

The Women in Triticum (WIT) awards are a fantastic way to recognize and support emerging leaders in our community. The impressive cohort of past and present WIT recipients are actively contributing to global efforts to improve crop production and food security.” – Alison Bentley, Director, Global Wheat Program, at CIMMYT.

New Generation of Women Changing Wheat Science

Over the past 12 years, the Jeanie Borlaug Laube Women in Triticum (WIT) Early Career Award has supported 66 early-career women scientists as they build a stronger, more inclusive community of wheat scholars fighting hunger worldwide. CYIMMT announced that the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) has honored six early-career scientists from Morocco, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Italy, Pakistan and China in 2022. Read more here.

Drought, Thin Wheat Stands a Concern

Crop progress for winter wheat in critical production areas might have inched up a bit from December through January but a long and lingering drought continues to threaten production in Texas, Oklahoma, western Kansas and southeast Colorado. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economist Mark Welch in a recent report noted the latest USDA Crop Progress report shows at the beginning of January, Kansas wheat in combined good and excellent categories was rated at 19%, down from 22% at the beginning of December. For Colorado wheat, 54% was rated good and excellent on January 1, up from 30% in late November. Read more here.

Changing Wheat Flowers to Increase Yields

Like maize and rice, wheat has been the subject of CRISPR-based yield improvements in the past year. The anatomy of flowers in grain crops has long been understood to be an important determinant of individual plant yield. By editing a gene associated with the development of flowers, researchers were able to markedly improve overall yield of in wheat plants in experimental field trials without any reductions of other important properties. Read more in Innovative Genomics.

Congratulations to Michigan Wheat Farmer Dave Milligan

For each of the past 19 years, Michigan Farmer magazine has bestowed the prestigious Master Farmer award on three people who have demonstrated how to farm more effectively, efficiently, environmentally and economically. This year’s honorees include Dave Milligan of Cass City, Mich., who has been a farmer leader with the National Association of Wheat Growers. Also honored were Joe Bryant, Shepard, Mich., and Louis Wierenga Jr. of Hastings, Mich. Read more here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo, and more on LinkedIn.



Following a year of dramatic volatility, several factors have pressured global wheat prices back to levels last seen before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. There are several factors behind this trend. In this article, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) examines the tenacity of world wheat trade even in the face of serious market uncertainty.

In February 2022, Russia’s unprovoked invasion shook world markets, launching a season of unprecedented volatility and record prices across the agricultural sector. In response to Putin’s war, nearby Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures soared to $14.25/bu. Combined with record global consumption, production shortfalls, and a tightening global balance sheet, the war cast a shadow of uncertainty over the grain industry.

In May 2022, the market rallied yet again when India banned wheat exports, just days after Indian government officials assured world buyers that India would lead the charge to offset the supplies from the Black Sea and help tamp global food price inflation. CBOT wheat futures once again touched record highs of $12.77/bu.

Line graph shows how U.S. HRW, HRS and SRW wheat futures prices have changed from early 2022 through early 2023.

Volatility has been apparent in CBOT Wheat futures, Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBOT) Hard Red Winter wheat futures, and Minneapolis Grains Exchange (MGEX) Hard Red Spring wheat futures since the invasion. Source: U.S. Wheat Associates Price Charting Tool

A Black Sea Breakthrough

Flash forward to July 2022, when Russia and Ukraine, with support from the United Nations and Turkey, agreed to the Black Sea grain corridor and created the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) to facilitate exports for the region. The agreement allowed supplies trapped in Russia and Ukraine to re-enter the world market, and in response, wheat futures eased 37% from the spring’s highs.

Bar chart shows Russian wheat production, export sales and other information using data from USDA.

Russian wheat production increased by 21% from 2021, and exports are expected to increase by 30% on the year. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

Return to Pre-War Prices

In the months since the corridor was implemented, wheat futures have continued falling to pre-war levels. The downward pressure of steady, low-priced Black Sea wheat exports remains the primary driver. According to JCC data, since the corridor’s inception, 5.1 MMT of wheat have been shipped from Ukraine. As for Russian exports, the January U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates pegged Russian wheat production at 91.0 MMT, though some private sector forecasts are upwards of 104.0 MMT. With record production, Russian exports are expected to reach 43.0 MMT, 17% above the five-year average.

A record crop from Australia has also helped ease some global supply concerns. The Australian wheat crop is rumored to reach nearly 42.0 MMT, though USDA estimates hover at 36.6 MMT.

On the domestic front, the USDA Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings Report increased 2023 winter wheat acres by 11% from 2022 to 14.9 million hectares. The combined impact of the ample Black Sea supplies and improved outlook in several major exporters has helped turn the wheat market back to buyers.

Bar chart of data from USDA shows global wheat production and global wheat use over the past 10 years.

For the third year in a row, world wheat consumption has outpaced production, even though global wheat production hit a record 781.3 MMT in 2022/23. Wheat is drawn from ending stocks to meet global demand. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

What Comes Next?

Market sentiment has become increasingly bearish and prices have significantly dipped in the buyer’s favor; however, many unknowns linger in the market. The underlying uncertainty of Putin’s war will continue to support the market. As seen in October, when Russia threatened to pull out of the Black Sea Grain initiative, prices spiked in response to the threat. In more recent news, on Jan. 25 a Russian missel struck a Turkish cargo ship in the port of Kherson in Ukraine, also sending futures momentarily higher. Volatility is a concern for as long as the war continues. Global balance sheets will also remain tight into the new crop year, and global wheat consumption continues to outpace production. Another factor, though not unique to this year, the weather will continue to play a significant role in prices as markets closely monitor the drought afflicted Argentine wheat crop and HRW conditions in the U.S. Central and Southern Plains.

By USW Market Analyst Tyllor Ledford



Last month, World Food Program USA reported that in 2022, for the third consecutive year, “the U.S. shipped over 1 million tons of wheat to global hunger relief efforts. The 1 millionth ton of wheat was loaded aboard the African Halycon cargo vessel and left Washington state on Saturday, November 26.”

As that shipment of donated U.S. soft white (SW) arrives in Yemen this month, USAID has issued two new food aid tenders for about 170,000 metric tons of U.S. hard red winter (HRW) to be donated to Ethiopia.

Six Years of Drought

“Years of drought in the Horn of Africa has created a serious food insecurity situation in Ethiopia and other countries,” said Peter Laudeman, Director of Trade Policy with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). “The donated wheat will be distributed to local flour mills then to the Ethiopian people.”

A large portion of U.S. food aid is managed by USAID’s Food for Peace office primarily as emergency food assistance. USAID purchases U.S commodities at market price and donates them to meet the immediate nutritional needs of those facing hunger. In other cases, USAID will purchase and donate local or regionally grown commodities or provide market-based food vouchers and cash.

Right Food at the Right Time

The type of assistance varies based on local circumstances and needs. More than 541,000 metric tons of HRW wheat was donated to Ethiopia in 2022 and almost 490,000 metric tons of SW was donated to Yemen last year. These two wheat classes best meet the preferences for Ethiopian and Yemeni wheat food products.

Compared to commercial U.S. wheat sales to date in 2022/23, food aid is the fourth largest destination for HRW, the fifth largest destination for SW, and the seventh largest destination for total U.S. wheat sales.”          – USW Market Analyst Tyllor Ledford

U.S. wheat farmers have been partners in U.S. international food assistance programs for more than 60 years and take pride in sharing their harvest with populations that need it most.

“Those of us in the U.S. food and agriculture community talk all the time about feeding the world,” Laudeman said. “I think these humanitarian, international programs really resonate with farmers.”

Ron Suppes on a food aid monitoring visit to Kenya and Tanzania.

“Farmers are unique stakeholders in the international food aid conversation, and we’ve been loyal partners and advocates of these programs since they started. I want to see us continue our trend of excellence in providing food aid to the countries that need it most,” said Kansas wheat farmer and past USW Chairman Ron Suppes (center) in Congressional testimony after visiting Kenya and Tanzania on a trip to monitor U.S. wheat food aid programs in 2017. Mike Shulte (second from right), executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, also made the trip.

Big Hearts, Abundant Harvests

People in the U.S. have big hearts and genuinely see a need to step up to the plate when there are populations around the world that are experiencing hunger, whether that’s due to drought in Ethiopia or conflict in Yemen, or any of the other countries that the U.S. has sent aid to,” USW Vice President of Policy Dalton Henry told the World Food Program USA in December. These shipments show “the generosity of U.S. farmers, as they produce an abundance of commodities that can be shared around the world,” Henry said.

USW and the Food Aid Working Group, a joint working group between USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers, are proud of the wheat provided through these food aid programs and believe that commodity donation is an effective portion of the whole effort.


Editor’s Note: Important work has been done indicating that U.S. hard red spring (HRS) is a potential “clean label” ingredients for the world’s commercial bakers.  To help wheat buyers understand more about this opportunity, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is reprinting  the following post originally published in October 2021.

The concept of “clean label” products is complex but increasingly important in food production and marketing. A blog by the chief science and technology officer for the U.S.-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) noted that clean label is not a scientific term.

“Rather, it is a consumer term that has been broadly accepted by the food industry, consumers, academics, and even regulatory agencies,” the IFT scientist wrote. “Essentially, clean label means making a product using as few ingredients as possible … that consumers recognize and think of as wholesome—ingredients that consumers might use at home … with easy-to-recognize ingredients and no artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals.”

Familiar Example

Clean label has become associated with consumer trust in food producers. The main challenge associated with clean label products arises in part from regulations requiring labels to use scientific names for ingredients. Food makers know their ingredients are wholesome and safe, but the label may put off consumers without a scientific background. For example, the IFT clean label blog demonstrated the potential challenge for consumers who may be reading this familiar label: “Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid Enzyme,” and not know that these are the scientific names for the ingredients in all-purpose flour found in homes around the world.

Expert Insight for the Baker

Food scientist Dr. Senay Simsek is well-known and respected by many of the world’s U.S. wheat end-product producers, serving as a USW consultant and as past head of the Wheat Quality & Carbohydrate Research Program at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Before her 2021 appointment as professor and Head of the Food Science Department at Purdue University, Dr. Simsek gave a detailed video presentation on the issue of clean labeling in the baking industry for USW’s 2020 U.S. Wheat Crop Quality program.

In that presentation, Dr. Simsek noted that the clean label concept is globally recognized. She cited a survey conducted in the Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America, indicating that almost half of consumers define clean label as “free from artificial ingredients.”

In studies at her NDSU program, Dr. Simsek had a graduate assistant identify all ingredients that can be found in baked bread products. In addition to flour and water, her team identified 53 different ingredients “with so many names that people have difficulty understanding like distilled monoglycerides or calcium peroxide, but which all have functionality.”

Dr. Simsek provided an in-depth look at many of the key ingredients and their bread baking functionality in the video. Noting the list of alternative dough strengthening ingredients, Dr. Simsek turned to the results of a study by her NDSU program comparing the performance of several alternative ingredient combinations.

The Clean Label Potential of Spring Wheat Flour

“The question was, can there an alternative to added chemical ingredients to strengthen the gluten structure in a way that is accepted by consumers and simplifies the label on white and whole wheat bread products?” she said.

The study used a commonly accepted winter wheat flour base as a control. Several formulations with spring wheat flour were added at different ratios to the base. Vital wheat gluten and different chemical dough strengtheners were also added to various formulations that were all baked and compared.

Conclusion Simsek Clean Label Bread Study

Dr. Simsek’s team at NDSU studied the effects on quality by adding strong gluten spring wheat to bread formulations compared to added dough strengthening agents. Replacing chemical agents with a simple flour ingredient could improve quality and simplify commercial baked product labels.

“In white bread, [crumb] firmness values were lower in the spring wheat blends compared to the control,” Dr. Simsek said in the USW video presentation. “If we just look at the bread comparing with chemicals versus the spring wheat blends, spring wheat blends were more functional, and they provided a better product compared to chemicals. Overall quality in terms of spring wheat blends versus the chemical, water observation was equal or better than additives, farinograph stability was better than additives, and the loaf volumes were equal or better than additives.”

Similar results were seen in whole wheat bread comparisons, Dr. Simsek said.

Noting that more investigation into the clean label potential of added strong gluten flour is needed to expand understanding, Dr. Simsek said, “the take-home message is that spring wheat could be a good option to replace oxidizing agents in bread formulations to have clean label bakery products.”