ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — A team of wheat buyers from Korea sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will visit Colorado and Oregon June 19 to 25, to personally observe the U.S. wheat supply chain, learn more about new wheat varieties and gain information about the 2011-12 crop. The flour milling companies represented on the tour together purchased about half of the 2.1 million tonnes (80.8 million bushels) of U.S. wheat exported to Korea in 2010-11, including soft white, hard red winter and hard red spring.

“We promote the superior quality of U.S. wheat, which is very important to Korean flour millers, and the reliability of the supply system,” said USW Country Director Dr. Won Bang Koh. “For example, this team wants to learn more about hard white wheat as a possible alternative to Australian Standard White (ASW). Bringing the millers to the United States is an effective way to demonstrate the value of U.S. wheat in this important market.”

USW Senior Technical Marketing Specialist Woojoon Park, Seoul, Korea, will lead the team, which includes: Dong-Chan Bae, agri-commodity procurement general manager, Samyang Milmax Corp.; Jae-Wook Hwang, purchasing manager, DongA One Corp., Jin-Ug Oh, assistant sales and marketing manager, Samhwa Flour Mills Co., Ltd.; and Yang-Jin Park, deputy senior business manager, Daehan Flour Mills Co., Ltd.

Korea is the sixth largest U.S. wheat buyer in the world. Yet, U.S. wheat producers face stiff competition in this market from Australia and Canada. The pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) is an important opportunity to help the U.S. wheat industry maintain or grow the Korean market in an increasingly competitive trade environment. Australia and Korea finished a fifth round of bilateral trade negotiations in May 2010. Canada is negotiating a free trade agreement with Korea and another wheat exporter, the E.U., signed an agreement with Korea that is expected to be in full force by July 1. KORUS would eliminate the duty on U.S. wheat imports, which would reduce the price and allow U.S. producers to compete with cheaper sourced imports and maintain a dominant market share.

USW worked closely with the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee, the Oregon Wheat Commission and the Washington Grain Commission to organize and host this visit. Following a briefing on Colorado wheat production, the milling executives will hear about new hard red winter and hard white wheat varieties from Colorado State University wheat breeders. Visits to a farm, shuttle train loading facility and a local flour mill complete the team’s stop in Colorado. In Portland, the Korean flour millers will observe the final leg of U.S. wheat’s journey from the farm to the port.