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Trade Teams Provide Opportunity to Engage Customers – Old and New

By: Erica Olson
Posted: Sep 13 2023

Each summer the ND Wheat Commission has the opportunity too host numerous trade teams sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates.  These teams provide an opportunity for our customers and potential customers to learn about the current production situation, farming practices, logistics, price outlook, research programs and make connections with individuals involved in each of those areas.  It also provides producers the unique opportunity to meet the end-users of their product.  Read on for a summary of this summer’s teams!

Korea Crop Survey Team
Korea is long-standing customer of U.S. wheat, and on average, is the fourth largest buyer of U.S. spring wheat with purchases of 16 million bushels per year.  Korea is not a new market for U.S. wheat, in fact the USW/Seoul office recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.  The country made their first purchase of U.S. wheat in 1972 and that has grown over the years to consistently reach over 50 million bushels of U.S. wheat per year.  Korea relies almost entirely on wheat imports to meet their needs for noodles, bread products, and other wheat food products. 

This year’s crop survey team provided an opportunity for assistant managers from some of the largest flour mills to learn more about U.S. wheat production system.  While in North Dakota, the group had the opportunity to learn more about the quality and breeding programs at North Dakota State University, tour the Northern Crops Institute and NDSU Agronomy Seed Farm, as well as receive crop updates and a market outlook presentation.  The group also enjoyed an evening visiting with NDWC producer board members, learning more about their farms and respective production practices.

Sub Saharan Africa Team
The classes of wheat North Dakota produces – hard red spring and durum – sell at premium prices and often head towards established markets in Asia, Central American and Europe.  However, we’ve seen growing demand for high protein wheat in markets in areas of Africa and the Middle East.  This summer, the Commission had the pleasure of hosting a group from Sub Saharan Africa.  Participants represented flour mills based in Nigeria and Kenya.

Nigeria is an established market for U.S. wheat and has been the fourth largest export market in recent years.  Much of their import demand is for HRW and white wheat classes, but sales of HRS have ranged from 4.5 to 6 million bushels per year.  Kenya represents an opportunity market for U.S. HRS.  The market is extremely price sensitive, but there is demand for higher quality end-use products.  Last year, U.S. sales of HRS to Kenya totaled 550,000 bushels and a similar amount was sold a few years ago.  This trade team provided an opportunity to educate customers on the advanced U.S. wheat system, emphasizing the focus on quality and reliability.  In addition to receiving information on HRS quality, logistics and marketing, the team visited a shuttle elevator facility and NDWC Board member Scott Huso’s farm.  As always, the exchange of information between customers and producers was a highlight of the visit. 

SE Asia Bakery Team
The Southeast Asian region is extremely important for U.S. HRS, accounting for nearly 40% of total export demand.  Customer visits from this region of the world are not unusual, but the majority of the time, team composition is made of flour millers and procurement staff.  For the second year, USW sponsored a team from the region comprised of member from prominent bakeries from Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.  The companies represented on this team have tremendous market share in their respective countries.  This type of team also provides an opportunity to hear a different perspective from some of our largest customers.  

The visit allowed the participants a chance to get a feel for the whole system – from wheat field to flour mill.  Presentations covered the current crop situation, an explanation how supply and demand factors affect wheat prices, and how certain wheat and flour quality parameters impact end-use quality.  The visit was also an opportunity for North Dakota to showcase how high quality spring wheat can give bakers an advantage in certain products. The team concluded their visit with a tour of a shuttle elevator facility and dinner and conversation with producers.   

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