The West African nation of Angola is making good progress in its desire to improve food security for a rapidly growing population, currently estimated at 24.5 million people. The Angolan government believes that building its own food processing capacity is a crucial part of that effort to help reduce the cost of importing processed wheat flour, maize meal and cooking oils, while creating jobs for the Angolan people, lowering consumer food expenses and preserving foreign exchange.
Angola currently imports an estimated 800,000 MT of processed wheat flour from various origins to produce popular baguettes and Portuguese style bread, but the country was not always dependent on flour imports.
“U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) introduced HRW wheat to Angolan milling companies in 1993 through the USDA PL 480 Title 1 monetization program,” said Ed Wiese, USW Regional Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa. “The industry processed many thousands of MT of HRW every year until 2001 when the Title 1 program ended. And Angolan bakers told me they very much liked the quality of the HRW flour to make baguettes and Portuguese-style bread.”
When monetized U.S. HRW was no longer available, the Angolan government turned to subsidizing imported flour. Recently improved economic prospects and the government’s new focus created an opportunity to begin increasing flour milling capacity. To build on its legacy of success, USW hired a part-time consultant to provide timely and accurate information about U.S. HRW to Angolan flour millers, bakers, grain traders and government officials. Funding for this trade service comes from USW’s partnership with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service export market development programs.
In 2016, Wiese met with representatives of an Angolan flour mill that plans to expand its capacity beginning in 2017. Wiese proposed a way to demonstrate the value and utility of U.S. HRW to that mill’s staff and customers. Under the USDA/FAS Quality Samples Program (QSP), USW arranged for 100 MT of HRW from the state of Kansas to be shipped to the Perdue export terminal in Norfolk, VA, loaded into five shipping containers and ultimately delivered to the mill in late January 2017.
A separate QSP shipment of U.S. HRW flour recently arrived at an Angola food processing company, intended to demonstrate the usefulness of HRW in pasta production. The current U.S. Ambassador to Angola, Helena M. La Lime, and representatives from USW and the North American Millers’ Association celebrated the arrival of this shipment in a ceremony at the processing company on Feb. 28. Africa Today reported that Amb. La Lime highlighted the great potential U.S. wheat has in supporting Angola’s milling and food industries and said the United States “supports Angola’s efforts to diversify the economy through industrialization and increased local production of consumer goods.”
“I believe U.S. wheat farmers would be proud to know that their wheat has the potential to help improve economic conditions in Angola,” said Wiese. “Through trade service, technical support and training, our organization tries to build lasting relationships with our valued customers around the world. And, assuming prices remain competitive in the changing world wheat trade, we hope that our support will lead to increased demand for HRW to produce great bread, pasta and other wheat food products for the Angolan people.”