WASHINGTON, DC, US — US Wheat Associates and project partner Universidad Mayor on Dec. 3 dedicated Laboratorio De Analisis De Granos Harinas Y Panifcacion, a new wheat flour laboratory, in Santiago, Chile. The new facility includes a test flour mill, wheat and flour analysis instruments and bread ovens.

“We are very pleased to open the first lab of its kind in this region with Universidad Mayor,” said Miguel Galdós, USW regional director, South America. “We know that technical managers at South American flour mills have more influence today on the types of wheat their mills need to purchase. USW will be able to help more of those managers understand the differential advantages of US wheat classes by conducting programs at this regional lab. At the same time, having access to consistent and reliable testing and analysis will lead to improvements in production processes and help improve the quality of regional wheat-based end products.”

The idea for the laboratory first came to light in 2019, when the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, administered by the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture, was created to help US agriculture build new export markets. USW said its regional South American office staff in Santiago used the ATP as a vehicle to propose the creation of a regional flour milling, cereal chemistry and baking laboratory in cooperation with a respected university.

USW and Universidad Mayor began a partnership that had to overcome many pandemic-related delays and customs challenges. USW said it purchased and installed all the equipment using ATP funds, while Universidad Mayor built the laboratory and will cover fixed costs. With the laboratory now complete, USW said it will share equal access with the university to the laboratory for technical support activities supporting US wheat exports to South America. It also will remain the laboratory’s only private partner for the next 15 years.

“Before now, South American millers would have to send wheat samples to a commercial company in Guatemala for analysis, so this lab adds much more efficiency in its support for regional customers,” said Mark Fowler, USW vice president of global technical services.

Mike Spier, USW vice president of overseas operations, called the laboratory a “golden opportunity” to demonstrate the competitive baking advantage of US wheat classes compared to wheat from other regions.

“With the ever-changing travel restrictions and quarantines, USW hasn’t been able to organize in-person technical activities for several months,” Spier said. “The lab provides everything USW technical specialist Andrés Saturno needs to get back to demonstrating the superior end-use baking performance of US wheat classes to partners in Chile and other customers in USW’s South America region.”