By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst
Every year, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) hosts educational seminars around the world to engage with overseas customers and share information on the unique quality and marketing characteristics of that’s year’s U.S. wheat harvest. In early November, I had the opportunity to join my USW colleagues for the first time in Dubai, U.A.E. and Cairo, Egypt for two crop quality seminars and the 30th anniversary celebration of the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM). These events were substantially different, but equally important opportunities to engage with U.S. wheat customers around the world.
Crop quality seminars give customers an in-depth look at the quality of each class of U.S. wheat following that year’s harvest and an overview of broad supply and demand conditions affecting global wheat markets. Led by USW milling, baking and marketing specialists, as well as outside consultants, these seminars feature presentations not only detailing the growing conditions for each U.S. wheat class, but each class’s grading characteristics, flour testing results and baking data. Topics also range from competitor production highlights to foreign policy issues affecting international trade.
At the seminars that I attended, USW’s Ian Flagg, Regional Vice President, European, Middle Eastern and North African Regions’ Chad Weigand, Assistant Regional Director, Sub-Sahara African Region; and Tarik Gahi, Milling and Baking Technologist, Middle Eastern, East and Northern African Region; lead the crop quality, global supply and demand and marketing presentations. I had the opportunity to present “Understanding the USW Price Report and Basis,” an intuitive, how-to-read exploration of the USW Price Report we publish each week. Navigating U.S. export markets and making purchasing decisions is a complicated, risk-involved process and USW wants its customers to have as much information as possible for all wheat buying decisions.
USW believes in complete supply chain transparency and hosts these crop quality seminars to educate buyers on the quality, end use versatility, and value of U.S. wheat. The USW Price Report adds to the philosophy of supply chain transparency because it gives the world’s buyers an independently derived baseline of export prices for U.S. wheat by class, protein level, export region and delivery month.
From these crop quality seminars, I learned how to better explain the distinct challenges and opportunities for buyers contracting for wheat value following this year’s harvest. USW tries to make the vast array of quality and pricing information accessible and intuitive to buyers and I am proud to be involved in these efforts.
The IAOM conference for the Middle East and Africa region in Dubai gave me the unique opportunity to interact with a global array of millers, bakers, technology specialists and grain traders. USW was instrumental in helping found IAOM in the Middle East in 1989 when the organization, a handful of millers and several industry specialists came together to create a professional and educational space to interact every year. Today, IAOM boasts over 1,000 members from all over the world and from all corners of the grain trading, storing, shipping, milling, processing and baking industries.
The conference gives members the opportunity to network, build relationships and learn about new topics critical to the wheat milling industry. USW is also an educational sponsor, providing funding and staff speakers at most IAOM conferences. This year, Ian Flagg presented on U.S. supply and marketing conditions while Tarik Gahi moderated a panel of topics varying from grain storage to technologies for flour and whole flour production to general innovations in flour milling. USW also sponsored a booth at the event which allowed customers and colleagues to ask USW staff about technical trends in milling and lab studies, global marketing conditions, how to communicate with U.S. grain traders and U.S. wheat supply and quality characteristics.
The IAOM conference, like the crop quality seminars, gave me an excellent look into USW’s role as a trade servicing organization for overseas customers. USW believes in supply chain transparency and creates every opportunity it can to educate buyers about the quality, versatility and value of U.S. wheat.