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NDWC Chairman Jim Pellman has Opportunity to visit customers in China and Vietnam

By: USW Associates and Erica Olson
Posted: Apr 17 2024

Wheat farmers from Maryland, Minnesota and North Dakota toured flour mills and bakeries in Vietnam, getting a close look at how U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works with customers to promote U.S. wheat. The group also traveled to Guangzhou, China, where it met with grain traders and attended the 40th anniversary of the Sino American Baking School (SABO).  Jim Pellman, NDWC Chairman and USW Secretary/Treasurer was part of the group, along with Mark Jossund, MN and Jennifer Schmidt, MD.  Luke Muller, USW Assistant Director led the group.

Muller said a lot of ground was covered on the week-long mission. “Vietnam and China are two very distinct markets. The team saw the different ways different classes of U.S. wheat are being used by our customers. The farmers were also able to witness the strong relationships USW has built with key industry leaders in both places,” he said.

Working close with the millers and bakers allows USW to strengthen those relationships even more, Muller explained. “There is a lot of interaction,” Muller said. “The farmers were able to pick up on that.”  The team toured flour mills and bakeries in Vietnam and China.  The trip allowed wheat farmers to meet and interact with their customers in both countries, a key component to building relationships that help build and maintain markets for high quality U.S. wheat.  China is often a top 10 customer of U.S. and this year ranks as the third largest export market with sales at nearly 80 million bushels.  U.S. export sales to Vietnam this year are up 20%, with a large portion of the sales being HRS.

According to Pellman, building customer relationships is integral to maintaining and expanding markets.  “Customers, especially in Asia, still value face to face contact and long-term relationships.  They appreciate meeting with the producers that grow the wheat they purchase,” he said.  Another key reason relationship building is important is that U.S. wheat is definitely not the cheapest in the world.  “Customers purchase it for its quality attributes, and that is what we compete on.” Pellmen commented.  “We need to keep building these relationships so we can showcase our quality to our customers.  USW staff is doing this everyday – showing mills, bakeries and other customers – how U.S. wheat can improve the quality of the end product,” he added.

Highlights of the trip included visiting some of the largest mills in the region, exploring small independent bakeries, visiting trading companies, and seeing firsthand examples of USW technical servicing in various mills and bakeries. 

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