By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

On Sept. 28, USDA released its Small Grains Summary noting that 2018/19 U.S. wheat production increased to 51.3 MMT, up 8 percent from last year due to improvements in both average yield and harvested area. While this is still 8 percent below the 5-year average of 55.8 MMT, the 2018/19 production coupled with significant carry-in stocks ensure that the U.S. wheat store will remain open and well-stocked throughout 2018/19. Here is a look at 2018/19 U.S. wheat production by class.

Hard red winter (HRW). Last fall, U.S. farmers increased HRW planting in the U.S. Southern Plains due to favorable moisture conditions. That slight increase was not enough to offset decreased planted area in the U.S. Northern Plains where a long-term drought delayed, and in some cases, prevented winter wheat planting. Planted area in Montana fell 6 percent year over year. USDA reported HRW planted area at 23.2 million acres (9.39 million hectares), down 2 percent from 2017. Unfortunately, most of the Southern Plains received little to no moisture until spring, with some areas going from October to April without measurable precipitation. The poor weather caused Oklahoma wheat farmers to abandon 43 percent of their winter wheat area, up from both the 5-year average and the 2017/18 abandonment rate of 36 percent. The average HRW yield in Kansas and Oklahoma, the top two HRW-producing states, decreased 21 percent and 18 percent from 2017/18, respectively. With the drought causing both harvested area and average yields to fall, USDA estimates total 2018/19 HRW production dropped 12 percent to 662 million bushels (18.0 MMT). Though smaller in volume, 2018 HRW quality i is excellent. Read more here.

Hard red spring (HRS). Wet conditions slowed HRS planting but replenished depleted soil moisture across the drought stressed Northern Plains. USDA says U.S. farmers planted 12.1 million acres (4.90 million hectares) to HRS, up 17 percent from the year prior. The beneficial moisture boosting average HRS yields and harvested area. In North Dakota, the top HRS producing state, the average yield climbed 20 percent year over year to a record high 49.0 bu/acre (3.29 MT per hectare), up 41 percent from 2017/18. Idaho farmers also produced record high HRS yields. USDA now reports HRS production at 587 million bushels (16.0 MMT), up 53 percent from 2017/18.

Soft red winter (SRW). Last fall, U.S. farmers planted 5.85 million acres (2.37 million hectares) of SRW, up 4 percent from the year prior, but still 23 percent below the 5-year average. While planting conditions were generally favorable, depressed prices kept planted area low. In early 2018, several U.S. SRW growing areas received excessive moisture that decreased yield potential and the wet weather continued through harvest. USDA reported SRW production totaled 286 million bushels (7.78 MMT), down 2 percent from 2017/18 and 33 percent below the 5-year average of 429 million bushels (11.7 MMT). Read more here.

White wheat (including soft white, club and hard white). U.S. white wheat planted acres stayed close to the 5-year average at 4.15 million acres (1.68 million hectares) in 2018/19. A wet winter boosted yield potential for both the winter and spring crops. The average spring white wheat yield in Washington increased 20 percent to 54.0 bu/acre (3.63 MT per hectare). The slight increase in harvested area and significant improvement in average yields pushed 2018/19 total white wheat production to 272 million bushels (7.41 MMT), a 5 percent increase year over year, and 8 percent above the 5-year average of 252 million bushels (6.86 MMT).

Durum. Farmers planted less durum area this year in response to lower prices and large carry-out stocks during spring planting. USDA estimates 2.00 million acres (810,000 hectares) were planted to durum, down 13 percent from 2017/18 but still 9 percent above the 5-year average of 1.84 million acres (745,000 hectares). USDA estimated total 2018/19 U.S. durum production at 77.3 million bushels (2.10 MMT), up 41 percent from last year. Generally favorable weather boosted yields in the U.S. Northern Plains, with average durum yields increasing to 39.3 bu/acre (2.64 MT per hectare), up 13.3 bu/acre from last year when drought severely impacted the crop. Desert Durum® production fell 8 percent year over year to 10.5 million bushels (385,000 MT) due to sharply lower planted area in both Arizona and California.

Wheat food products to illustrate Wheat Industry News

The conscientious husbandry of U.S. farmers and the distinct influence of growing conditions across the Plains and into the Pacific Northwest helped produce a 2018 U.S. hard red winter (HRW) crop that has above average kernel characteristics and, in most cases, higher protein than the previous two crops. Annual crop quality testing sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its partners from Plains Grains and USDA indicates the 2018 HRW quality attributes significantly exceed the last two years and many of the 5-year averages.

Most people and organizations in the industry consider this one of the highest quality crops in several years and will make high quality end products. This crop meets or exceeds typical HRW contract specifications and should provide high value to our customers.

Here is a summary of the season and test results, with full data soon available online and in USW’s annual Crop Quality Seminars.

Weather and Harvest

The 2018 hard red winter (HRW) planted area was 2.5 percent below the historical low planted area of the 2017 crop. With reduced yields and reduced area, 2018 HRW production is estimated to be 18.0 million metric tons [(MMT) (662 mil bu)], down 12 percent from 2017’s 20.4 MMT and 20 percent below the 5-year average production. Large beginning stocks offset the reduced production so the total HRW supply available for the 2018/19 marketing year is larger than three of the previous 5 years.

Conditions varied across the HRW growing regions. Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas were extremely dry during most of the growing season. By the time harvest started in early June, USDA rated 85 percent of HRW in these three states to be in fair, poor or very poor condition. Late season precipitation helped to establish good kernel characteristics even though rains were too late and insufficient to improve yield. In contrast, 75 percent to 90 percent of the crop rated fair, good or excellent in the remaining states north to eastern Montana. Because of dry conditions, disease and insect pressure was low.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho and central/north central Montana had adequate moisture throughout the year that helped maximize production. More than 90 percent of the HRW grown in these three states was rated fair, good or excellent in late June.

Wheat and Grade Data

Despite challenging growing conditions in many areas, the 2018 crop has generally good kernel characteristics. Overall 93 percent of Composite, 91 percent of Gulf-Tributary and 98 percent of PNW-Tributary samples graded U.S. No. 2 or better. Test weight averages 60.9 lb/bu (80.2 kg/hl), above the 5-year average of 60.3 lb/bu (79.3 kg/hl) and above last year’s average of 60.5 lb/bu (79.6 lb/bu). The total defects average of 1.4 percent is above last year’s average of 1.2 percent, but below the 5-year average of 1.6 percent. Foreign material is 0.2 percent, slightly above last year’s 0.1 percent, while shrunken and broken at 1.1 percent is above last year’s 0.9 percent and equal to the 5-year average. Average thousand kernel weight of 30.9 g exceeds the 5-year average of 29.8 g. The average wheat falling number is 373 seconds, which is comparable to the 2017 and 5-year averages and indicates sound wheat.

The average protein of 12.4 percent (12 percent moisture basis or mb) is significantly higher than last year and equal to the 5-year average. Protein content distribution varies by growing region; the Gulf-Tributary average is 12.7 percent and the PNW-Tributary average is 11.7 percent. Approximately 12 percent of the samples tested were less than 11.5 percent protein, 29 percent between 11.5 percent to 12.5 percent and 60 percent greater than 12.5 percent.

Flour and Baking Data

The Buhler laboratory flour yield average is 75.1 percent, lower than the 2017 average of 78.1 percent and similar to the 5-year average of 75.7 percent. The 2018 flour ash of 0.44 percent (14 percent mb) is significantly lower than last year’s 0.64 percent and the 5-year average of 0.59 percent. Composite sedimentation and wet gluten values, 54.2 cc and 28.1 percent, respectively, are both higher than last year. The W value of 280 (10-4 J) is significantly higher than last year’s average of 199 (10-4 J) and the 5-year average of 228 (10-4 J). average bake absorption is 63.7 percent, above the 62.8 percent value for both 2017 and the 5-year average. Farinograph peak and stability times, 5.2 min and 12.2 min, respectively, are higher than last year’s 4.5 min and 6.1 min. Loaf volume averages 901 cc, above the 2017 and 5-year averages.


This week, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is saying a fond farewell to two very dedicated colleagues. Ms. Sadako Ishida is retiring from her Program Assistant/Accountant position at USW/Tokyo after 40 years and, with the closing of the USW/Moscow office, Ms. Valentina Shustova is leaving her position as Office Director and Marketing Specialist after 25 years.


“Ishida-san has remained a good-hearted employee throughout her career with U.S. Wheat Associates,” said Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, Country Director, USW/Tokyo. “There have been challenges, such as when former Country Director Takeo Suzuki was ill with cancer and passed away, but she overcame any hardship with a most positive outlook. I believe her loyalty and friendly attitude to her work and life benefitted our customers, the farmers we represent and all her colleagues. We thank her very much for her service and hope she will have a long and healthy retirement.”

Ms. Sadako Ishida (right) at the USW/Tokyo office with Country Director Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya. New Program Assistant Ms. Makiko Ochi is not pictured.


Sadako shared some information about her career with us that we want to pass along.


“I was introduced to U.S. Wheat Associates by an aunt of a friend who was working for one of the U.S. agricultural cooperator organizations. At the time (1978), Mr. Ron Maas was the Country Director who hired me,” she recalled. “At first, I was a clerk typist doing daily office work such as accompanying U.S. travelers to observe local mills, which was an experience I enjoyed very much. Then after our accountant left, my responsibility included bookkeeping. As the number of staff was reduced, I stayed mostly at the office ready for calls or visitors, assisting Mr. Suzuki and then Mr. Utsunomiya.


“I want to say thank you so much to all of USW colleagues for all the wonderful years. As I am a daughter of farmer myself, I have been very happy to be able to share common topics with U.S. farmers and have been very proud to provide a little help for them and our Japanese customers — including me.”

“Because of Valentina’s dedicated service to U.S. Wheat Associates and the farmers we represent, it was a difficult choice to close our Moscow office” Peterson said. “She remained an active participant in the Russian grain industry and provided very relevant information and perspective on the amazing changes that have taken place there. We sincerely thank her for her commitment and we wish her the best of luck in the future.”

Ms. Valentina Shustova, with a recognition of her 25 years of service given by her USW colleagues.

Valentina also shared some thoughts on this transition.


“The time has come to say good bye to all of you with whom I worked closely over the past 25 years,” she said. “I am proud and happy that I was privileged to work for and on behalf of the U.S. wheat producers in such a great organization and with such wonderful and talented professionals. Many of you have become my good friends. I will keep good memories of these years. Thank you all for that! I wish all the USW staff the best and success in the dedicated work for the benefit and prosperity of U.S. wheat producers.”


We wish both of our colleagues all the best.


With the 2018 U.S. winter wheat harvest complete and October right around the corner, U.S. wheat farmers are now seeding a new crop. Across the 18 states that represent 90 percent of the area planted to winter wheat last year, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates that 28 percent of the 2019 crop was planted as of September 23.


An image of wheat planting that caught our eye came recently from John McManigal, who grows soft white wheat with his family in Wasco County, Ore. John is an excellent agricultural field photographer and, with Mt. Hood looming over this mid-Columbia region, has a remarkable landscape on which to work. The photo he shared with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) that we have posted here and his words tell an inspiring story of hope and renewal.


Seeding in Dust, Wasco County, Oregon,

Photo © John McManigal, Used with Permission


The Substation Fire started Tuesday, July 17, on US 197 near The Dalles, Ore., about 3:30 p.m. By evening it had raced east across Wasco County, jumped the Deschutes River and started up into Sherman County. The next day brought more wind. The fire gathered itself again and started another run to the east. By the end of the day on Wednesday, Mid-Columbia Producers figured roughly 2 million bushels of wheat went up in smoke.”


“That is my son Brad in the photograph seeding on Rich Kortge Farms, only about five miles east of where the Substation Fire started. This field had been left fallow last season but the vegetative cover was lost to the fire. The field in the background to the left of the fence was standing wheat that went up in flames on the afternoon of July 17.”


“It has not rained in months here and the seeding conditions look a little bleak.”


“But you know farmers. Maybe next year…”



U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works on behalf of U.S. wheat producers to help the world’s wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six classes of U.S. wheat.


The U.S. grain marketing system is a consistently reliable and transparent resource, but it can be a bit complicated for new and, sometimes, experienced buyers to navigate. That is why USW focuses so much of its activity on trade service, keeping buyers and processors informed about crop quality and prices, and how to use the grain marketing and inspection system to protect value and better manage price risks.


This is a crucial effort giving buyers and users the ability to specify the qualities necessary for almost every end-use product from among the six classes grown across the country. Our dedicated staff is well equipped to help individual customers get the best value possible. They are backed by a wide range of support posted on the USW website at “Working with Buyers” is a very informative section of the site and provides, in effect, a primer on U.S. wheat classes and grade factors, the basic “language” of the U.S. wheat marketing system and other resources available to international wheat buyers.


The opening page of Working with Buyers describes the basic services USW provides, including: trade servicing to answer questions and resolve issues in purchasing, shipping or using U.S. wheat; technical assistance to help strengthen milling, storage, handling and end-product industries; market information and analysis that may affect imports, and projections for future wheat production and consumption; and promotion to expand consumer awareness and appreciation for wheat foods.




All six U.S. wheat classes are profiled next in the section, along with a map showing their general production areas. Milling and processing characteristics and examples of wheat foods made with flour from each class round out this page.


There is a glossary of terms that help the buyer better understand the U.S. grain marketing and grading system. Wheat grades reflect the physical quality and condition of a sample and thus may indicate the general suitability for milling. Terms such as test weight, vitreous kernels and defects are included in this information along with “non-grade” data terms including dockage, protein, ash and kernel size and weight. Representative terms associated with flour and dough performance have their own sections. Baking evaluations, with annual results summarized in the USW Crop Quality reports, are also explained.


Still another section of this resource pulls together the other information to explain “How to Buy” U.S. wheat. It covers the U.S. wheat supply chain, production and grain shed regions and notes on who supplies wheat, and how it is transported, to the export elevators. Quality assurance through the Federal Grain Inspection Service is detailed along with the contracting process and financial arrangements.



Finally, a Resources section of Working with Buyers includes links to several other relevant materials. Here you can learn how wheat and flour testing is done, how USW collects and analyzes almost 2,000 annual crop quality samples and more.


This combination of reliability and quality provides excellent value to U.S. wheat customers. And the U.S. wheat marketing system can work effectively for buyers and end-product users. When USW representatives are, briefly, not available, we hope you will remember to look online for the Working with Buyers resource.



Recent news and highlights from around the wheat industry.

Quote of the Week: Though the Russians have been quick to deny potential [wheat] export curbs, we believe truth lies somewhere within these statements and that some restriction is forthcoming. The question remains when and how much.” Oklahoma-based market analyst Brady Sidwell.


Analyst Believes U.S. Wheat Demand Can Grow. Brady Sidwell, Principal of Sidwell Strategies in Enid, Okla., told farm broadcaster Ron Hays on Oklahoma Farm Report that U.S. wheat prices are nearing some key support levels and are within only a few dollars per metric ton with Russian supplies. He notes that only 45 percent of the new Russian crop meets milling quality and that could be another factor leading its government to intervene in exports. Listen to this interesting analysis at

Changes to USW Price Report. Due to increased demand for higher protein U.S. soft white (SW) wheat and the low average protein levels of the 2018/19 crop, the USW Price Report will change this week to show min 9.5 protein premiums (currently about a 20 cent per bushel premium to max 10.5 SW prices) and no longer show an unspecified protein level. Unspecified protein SW has priced equal to max 10.5 SW for the last several months. USW will continue to monitor market conditions and make changes to the report as necessary.


September is Whole Grains Month. Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and serves as an excellent source of nutrition. Read more about whole grains from the National Wheat Foundation here. Visit the Wheat Foods Council website for additional whole grains and wheat foods resources.


Curious About the Latest Innovations in Plant Breeding? The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has prepared a great resource on plant breeding innovations like gene editing. You can find these materials on a special section of ASTA’s website at


Subscribe to USW Reports. USW publishes a variety of reports and content that are available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts, the weekly Price Report and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.


Follow USW Online. Visit our page at for the latest updates, photos and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter at and video stories at


By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst


USDA expects global wheat production to fall to the lowest level in 5 years at 733 million metric tons (MMT), down 3 percent from the record high of 758 MMT in 2017/18. If realized, it would be slightly below the 5-year average. This downturn is, unfortunately, led by decreasing supplies in historic wheat exporters. At the same time, USDA raised its forecast for global wheat consumption to a record high 746 MMT, up 1 percent from 2017/18. To help buyers stay up to date on this fundamental information, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is providing this round-up of current conditions and forecasts for Canada, Argentina and Australia.


The estimated wheat production in countries still harvesting adds only a small portion of the 2018/19 supplies in exporting countries, and the total is expected to be down for the second year in a row 


Canada. Winter is here, if you farm in Alberta and Saskatchewan that account for roughly 70 percent of Canadian wheat production. Provincial weekly crop reports on Sept. 11 noted harvest delays from early frosts, wet field conditions and, in some areas, snow. We do not yet know the extent of any damage to wheat quality from these conditions, but it raises concern because more than half of the spring wheat in the two provinces was still in the field. Harvest was an estimated at 23 and 46 percent complete in Alberta and Saskatchewan, respectively.


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) had already pegged 2018/19 Canadian wheat production (excluding durum) down 4 percent from 2017/18 at 24.0 MMT. A 10 percent decrease in average wheat yields is partially offset by a 7 percent increase in expected harvested area. AAFC reported average wheat yields of 48.3 bu/acre (3.25 MT/ha) compared to 54.0 bu/acre (3.63 MT/ha) in 2017/18. Canadian durum production is expected up 1 percent from 2017/18 to 5.03 MMT; an expected 17 percent increase in harvested area more than offsets a14 percent reduction in average yields year over year. AAFC expects 2018/19 Canadian total wheat exports (including durum) to total 22.2 MMT, up 3 percent from 2017/18.


Argentina. According to the Bolsa de Cereales, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, Argentine farmers saw prices staying at profitable levels and planted 7 percent more wheat area for 2018/19. Since planting, the Argentine government announced an export duty of 4 pesos per dollar on wheat exports with its effects to be determined. Bolsa estimated total wheat planted area at 15.1 million acres (6.1 million hectares), up from 14.1 million acres (5.7 million hectares) in 2017/18.


On September 13, Bolsa reported beneficial moisture fell on the La Pampa region and areas around Buenos Aires. However, rainfall has been low in northwestern Argentina, which accounts for roughly one-third of wheat planted area. USDA’s September estimate for 2018/19 Argentinian wheat production was 19.5 MMT (716 million bushels), up 8 percent from 2017/18 and 35 percent greater than the 5-year average. Argentina harvest typically occurs in late November through early January.


Australia. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecasts 2018/19 wheat production at 19.1 MMT. That is down 10 percent from 2017/18 due to severe drought in New South Wales and Queensland, where Australian Prime Hard (APH) and Australia Hard (AH) production is centralized. Increased wheat production in Western Australia may partially offset the lower production elsewhere. Still, if realized, production volume would be the lowest since 2007/08. Australian wheat harvest typically occurs in December. USDA expects Australian exports to decrease to 14.0 MMT, 21 percent below the 5-year average.


With global wheat supplies tightening and global demand on the rise, customers should pay close attention to crop conditions in these countries. Even if early snows or drought cut supplies there, or a government intervenes in the market somewhere else, U.S. farmers remain the most reliable suppliers of high quality wheat in the world.


By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications


Things have changed in Nigeria’s flour milling industry. Members of a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board Team meeting with millers in Lagos recently learned more about how the West African nation’s economy and consumer preferences are forcing mills to reduce costs and produce a wider range of flour products without diminishing quality.


State wheat commission leaders who participated in the Sub-Saharan Africa Board Team that traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, included Jay Armstrong of Muscotah, Kan., a Past-Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission and USW director, Michael Edgar of Yuma, Ariz., and Don Schieber of Ponca City, Okla., who are both Past USW Chairmen. USW staff included Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer and Assistant Regional Director Chad Weigand. USW Marketing Consultant James Ogunyemi and Administrative Officer Olatunde Omatayo, based in Lagos, and Regional Director Gerald Theus, based in Cape Town, met the Team in Lagos.


Many millions of Nigerians cannot afford to spend much more than $2 on food every day, according to USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Regional Agricultural Counselor Jude Akhidenor, who briefed the Team in Lagos.


“We used to sell all we could produce; now we produce only what we can sell,” the general manager of a leading Nigerian flour milling company told the Team. He said consumers are looking for variety and mills are competing aggressively to respond. High-loaf bread is being eclipsed by instant noodles and pasta as staples.


Nigeria is one of the few global markets that has imported all six U.S. wheat classes. The changes in the market are putting pressure on Nigerian mills to cut their costs, however, leading to a growing volume of imported Black Sea region wheat because its price has been significantly lower than the U.S. hard red winter (HRW) that used to dominate Nigerian imports. Nevertheless, one leading miller in Nigeria continues to import HRW even in the face of that price difference.


USW 2018 Sub-Saharan Africa Team, L – R, James Ogunyemi, Chad Weigand, Oletunde Omatayo, Steve Mercer, Michael Edgar (behind), Gerald Theus, Jay Armstrong, Don Schieber.


The team members noted that the price of HRW and other U.S. classes is determined transparently by the market, not by farmers or the sellers and emphasized the industry’s efforts to continue improving HRW milling, baking and processing characteristics. The shift will likely continue, the millers said, even though they know by experience that HRW offers consistent performance and usually higher quality milling characteristics than Black Sea wheat.


“For those who like to see things stay as they are, that would be disappointing,” said Armstrong. “Markets change, however, and for those who like to adapt to new markets this could be viewed as an opportunity. To be more competitive again in Nigeria, I believe we will have to ramp up production of hard white (HW) wheat back at home. The millers we met with in Nigeria and in South Africa all made it clear the benefits of hard white wheat would outweigh cost differences.”


After USW introduced HW to Nigerian millers in 2008, Nigeria became the leading global importer of this wheat class.


Scaling up HW production in the United States to the point at which exportable supplies are consistently available will take a long, sustained effort. There are signs that the industry is moving in that direction.


Hard red winter wheat, however, will remain a very competitive class in the domestic market and in many other parts of the world. The U.S. supply chain is doing all it can to make HRW as competitive as possible, including opportunities to reduce export basis. This year, as exportable Russian wheat supplies decline or are blocked by government interference, Nigeria’s millers will be prepared to import more HRW.


From Lagos, the team travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa, and then to the capital city of Pretoria to meet the USDA/FAS agricultural team headed by recently posted Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs Jim Higgiston. Over lunch, he and his colleagues discussed the South African agricultural economy and unique challenges including the government policy of “expropriation” of land.


Income and gross domestic product are significantly higher in South Africa compared to Nigeria, but as they visited flour millers there the last two days of their trip, the Team members heard that cost is also a determining factor. In addition, the South African government sets domestic wheat prices at levels that remain consistently more competitive than U.S. No. 2 HRW prices to encourage production at home.


The USW Board Team at Tiger Foods headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa.


Three meetings with the flour milling divisions of successful South African food companies rounded out the team’s trip.


“It was very encouraging to hear that South Africa’s millers like U.S. wheat very much and do import more of it when prices are more competitive,” said Schieber. “And the people we met were so welcoming. One of the managers spent the last free day on our trip taking me to visit an implement dealer and a farm machinery show. I really appreciate that.”


Two additional highlights of the team’s South African visit were a tour of a plant where a popular, wheat breakfast food is produced and time with a very impressive South African family at their large dairy and grain farm.


USW and the team members want to thank all the customers they met on this trip for their candor and hospitality, and the USW staff who worked hard to make the arrangements, including Financial Accountant Cathy Marais and Regional Program Coordinator Domenique Opperman based in the USW Cape Town Regional Office.



Seventy-nine people participated in the 2018 edition of the biennial U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) North Asia Marketing Conference (NAMC) Aug. 26 to 28 in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Top management from leading milling companies in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, as well as U.S. wheat producers, state wheat commission staff and industry partners gathered to discuss current market factors and trends, U.S. wheat industry activities and the 2018 U.S. wheat harvest. Topics from 21 different speakers included the Global Wheat Outlook, Producing More and Better Wheat in More Sustainable Ways, The Trump Trade Agenda, and The Southeast Asian Milling Industry.

Quality improvement was a reoccurring theme at this year’s conference.

“We want customers to know that we are continuing research and work toward quality improvement,” said Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Overseas Operations, whose presentation focused on why U.S. wheat remains the best choice for North Asia customers. “It is something that U.S. wheat farmers believe in and continue investing in.”

USW Vice President and West Coast Office Director Steve Wirsching provided insight to how U.S. wheat quality continues to improve and was joined by Arron Carter, wheat breeder and Washington State University associate professor, in a discussion on plant breeding innovation. Carter also expanded on these topics in a popular, second presentation on how U.S. farmers are producing more and better wheat in more sustainable ways.

USW President Vince Peterson addressed the current trade policy climate, its current and future impact on the market and discussed what U.S. wheat industry is doing to support its customers.

“We understand and share our customer’s concerns on trade policy affecting the region,” said Fowler.

U.S. participants also provided a wide-ranging look at the supplies and quality of U.S. hard red winter (HRW), hard red spring (HRS) and soft white (SW) wheat classes during the conference.

Additional guest speakers and topics included: Kenji Takihara, Executive Officer, Nisshin Seifun Group, providing a Japan market outlook; Kuen-Ho Shih, President, CGPRDI, highlighting the development and prospect of the Taiwanese market; Chang Kyoon Park, Chairman, KOFMIA, providing a Korea market outlook; Michael Drury, Chief Economist, McVean Trading and Investments, LLC, discussing the U.S. market environment; Jeff McPike, Manager of Global Marketing, McDonald Pelz Global Commodities, highlighting mega trends in world grain markets and North American grain logistics infrastructure; Joong-Ho Ahn, Senior Managing Director, PanOcean, providing an overview of the world ocean freight market; Collin Watters, Executive Vice President, Montana Wheat & Barley Committee covering North American Grain Logistics Infrastructure; Matt Weimar, USW Regional Vice President, discussing the Southeast Asian milling industry; and Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President, providing a global wheat outlook.

“This conference is always an excellent opportunity to meet with buyers and millers from collectively the largest U.S. market,” said Glen Squires, CEO, Washington Grain Commission (WGC). “It allows us, the state wheat commissions, and U.S. Wheat Associates to hear and discuss important issues and to showcase efforts underway to better serve them as customers in providing high quality wheat.”

In addition to the wheat buyers from milling companies at the conference, U.S. wheat producers from seven states either attended or provided financial support for the conference. USW thanks the Idaho Wheat Commission, the Oregon Wheat Commission and the Washington Grain Commission for their sponsorship and additional participants from the Kansas Wheat Commission, Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, North Dakota Wheat Commission and Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program for their support to make the conference a continued success. Additional funding was provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

“It is important for us to be present and engaging with our customers and serve as a reliable resource,” said Fowler. “But it also means taking the time to listen to their needs and input.”

USW has posted presentations from the 2018 North Asia Marketing Conference on its website here: 


By Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Assistant Director of Policy

The United States has been a leader in helping those in need around the world for more than 60 years. In marketing year (MY) 2017/18, the United States sent approximately 800,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat overseas through international food aid programs, according to U.S. Wheat Associates’ internal tracking. Almost half of this amount, 385,000 MT, was soft white (SW) wheat that went to Yemen. Other recipient countries included Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali and Sri Lanka.

To put this number in perspective, the top five export markets for SW wheat in MY2017/18 were:

  1. Philippines – 1,174,200 MT
  2. Japan – 828,800 MT
  3. South Korea – 805,800 MT
  4. Indonesia – 599,100 MT
  5. China – 312,600 MT

Currently, an estimated 22.2 million people in the country require humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs, and 17.8 million of those need emergency food assistance. Wheat donations overseas vary from year to year because they are driven by need. Two years ago, Ethiopia was receiving the vast majority of wheat donations due to famine caused by drought that decimated local production.

Yemen is now receiving large quantities of wheat due to prolonged civil unrest that contributes to food insecurity. In August, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted an event in Portland, Ore., to bring attention to the need for food in Yemen and the ongoing U.S. efforts to provide aid. The media event was held across the Willamette River from an export elevator where government-purchased SW wheat was being loaded into an bulk container ship bound for Yemen.

Yemen is experiencing the largest food security emergency in the world, with people facing famine because they are unable to access sufficient food on their own. To complicate matters, ongoing violence around key ports makes getting food into the country more and more difficult. So far in 2018, WFP’s work in Yemen has reached approximately 7 million food-insecure people monthly with food assistance and food vouchers. Other than U.S. wheat, USAID’s Food for Peace program has also provided U.S.-sourced peas and vegetable oil to the country, as well as ready-to-use therapeutic foods that combat severe malnutrition.

As we face a world with political instability and unpredictable natural disasters, the demand for food aid is unlikely to abate; instead, the recipient countries will simply shift from year to year.

Given this continued need, it is vital that the United States continue to be a leader in humanitarian efforts abroad. Wheat is a staple food source for much of the world, providing an average of 20 percent of calories and protein to people worldwide. If the United States is to remain a leader, then in-kind commodity donations must remain a key part of our donations programs.