Japanese millers to visit West Coast wheat industry
by World Grain Staff
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — Senior executives representing six Japanese flour milling companies will visit Washington, Oregon and California June 22-28, to meet with all sectors of the regional grain trade from wheat breeders to farmers to exporters. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is sponsoring the team with assistance from the Washington Grain Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission and California Wheat Commission.
“While these executives manage mid-range to relatively small capacity flour mills, they have important influence with Japan’s government grain buying agency,” said Steve Wirsching, vice-president and director of USW’s West Coast Office in Portland, Oregon, U.S. “USW keeps all of our Japanese customers fully informed about U.S. wheat supply and prices, but visits like this give milling executives the chance to discuss other important factors like our logistical and quality assurance systems face-to-face with U.S. wheat farmers, breeders and exporters.”
In addition to walking through wheat fields, the team will discuss new wheat breeding research at Washington State University and the USDA/ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory in Pullman, Washington, U.S. They will tour container and bulk grain export terminal elevators. A visit to Woodland, California, U.S., includes the California Wheat Commission Milling and Baking Laboratory. And in Portland, the milling executives will get a taste of wheat food innovation at the Wheat Marketing Center and see the how the U.S. government independently certifies that grain meets importer specifications.
U.S. wheat farmers have maintained a close connection with Japan since 1949, when the Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) organized a trade delegation to Japan. That visit resulted in a variety of marketing and educational activities, including a school lunch program and a “Kitchen on Wheels” that travelled through rural Japan from 1956 to 1960. Since that time, Japan has purchased significantly more U.S. wheat than any other country, importing more than 133 million bushels per year on average for the last five years.