By Vince Peterson, USW President
Recently, I was searching online for some wheat market information to share at an upcoming meeting. I saw a headline that asked: “What country exports the most wheat?” Great, I thought, here we go again with more propaganda about Russia beating the United States in the global wheat export market contest.
Instead, I was quite pleased to scroll down to find that the United States was still the world’s largest wheat exporter in 2017 in terms of “value” according to the “World’s Top Exporters.” Russia produced almost twice the volume of wheat than the United States and more than matched U.S. export volume that year; but at an estimated $6.1 billion, U.S. wheat exports generated $300 million more value than Russian wheat exports.
The reason is clear: there are many private and public wheat buyers, millers and processors around the world that prefer the quality, variety and value of U.S. wheat; and that remains a primary asset to our farmers.
U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has adjusted its allocation of wheat farmer dollars and program funds from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to activities in markets that have a growing need for a variety of flour products with high quality functional characteristics. There our differential advantages shine through and where the investment offers the most return. On the other hand, USW continues to provide the trade servicing needed in the more cost-sensitive markets that are buying Russian wheat. There is value there, too, with a market environment like today’s in which the price spread between U.S. wheat classes and Black Sea supplies has narrowed. We continue to provide technical support to those buyers to demonstrate and build more knowledge about the true functional value of U.S. wheat. In addition, we are strong advocates for continuous improvement in wheat quality.
Looking ahead, I believe this is the right position for U.S. wheat in a global market with growing income levels, increasing urbanization and record setting consumption every year. It also reflects our mission: to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. producers and its value for their customers.