U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) in cooperation with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service welcomed close to 200 guests to a South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference May 9 to 11 in Phuket, Thailand. This was the first such conference in that region since 2012 and comes at a challenging time for the milling and wheat foods business.
“It was great to have everyone back together again,” said Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President. “Our regional milling and baking customers are dealing with a lot of uncertainty and market volatility and the pandemic limited our direct service work for a long time, so this is another way for us to demonstrate our commitment to them and why U.S. wheat remains important to their businesses.”
The conference theme, “Building Prosperity Through Partnership,” and presentations reminded customers that USW is committed to being a steadfast partner in both challenging and stable times. The program provided perspective on geopolitical and market forces shaping the regional wheat food industry, an early look at the 2023 U.S. wheat crop, and reports from millers in several South and Southeast Asian countries, including Antonina Sio, Assistant Vice President and General Manager of San Miguel Flour Mills in Batangas, Philippines.
Value in Networking
“I am attending the conference to learn more about the industry, the trends and what’s happening all over the world and, at the same time, to collaborate and network with my counterparts around the region,” Sio said.
Those millers expressed hope that flour demand will grow in the future based on population growth and changing economic factors. To give millers and bakers additional tools to help achieve that growth, USW included technical presentations on using solvent retention capacity analysis to select specific flours that perform best for specific end uses.
“The experience that we gain by learning from Mr. Roy Chung and from conferences like this gives us a lot of knowledge so we can improve our baking skills and improve products for our customers,” said Daniel Tay, Founder of Foodnostics in Singapore.
Thanks to Sponsors
Several USW farmer board members travelled to Phuket to participate in the conference, as did representatives from sponsoring organizations including the Idaho Wheat Commission, Nebraska Wheat Board, North Dakota Wheat Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission, and Washington Grain Commission. Additional funding was provided by Agrex, Inc., Bunge, Cargill, CHS, CoBank, Columbia Grain, Pacificor, LLC, United Grain Corp., and Viterra.