MANDAN, NORTH DAKOTA, U.S. — The North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) will host a group of milling executives representing the Philippine Association of Flour Millers, Inc. (PAFMIL) and the Chamber of Philippine Flour Millers (Champflour) from Aug. 21-25.

The Philippines is traditionally the second largest hard red spring wheat market, purchasing an average of 30 million bushels from the U.S. each year. Total U.S. wheat exports of nearly 60 million bushels of all classes of wheat place the Philippines as a consistent top ten market.

The Philippines represent a market potential of over 100 million bushels of feed and milling wheat each year, of which the U.S. traditionally supplies about 50%. The U.S. share of specifically milling quality wheat is much higher, at about 80%.

"The quality and reliability of our wheat and strong customer relationships with U.S. Wheat Associate's staff has allowed us to maintain that market share over the years," said Erica Olson, NDWC marketing specialist. "Demand is especially strong this year with export sales reaching 20 million bushels so far, up nearly 70 percent on the year."

The Philippine market is very important for North Dakota producers as it is a large and fairly stable market, however, it is not without challenges. Wheat consumption in recent years has remained steady or increased by only one percent or less each year, a problem partially attributed to higher wheat costs, an increase in rice consumption supported by government subsidies and increasing imports of low quality flour.

U.S. Wheat Associates is working closely with the Philippine milling industry to overcome these challenges as there is potential for growth. In an effort to increase consumption and demand for U.S. wheat, PAFMIL, Champflour and U.S. Wheat Associates have teamed up, launching a promotional campaign to educate consumers on the nutritional benefits of eating bread and other wheat-based products, thus potentially increasing wheat demand. Consumers in the Philippines are becoming more health conscious and interest in whole wheat products is growing.

While in the state the team will meet with the wheat research and variety development team at North Dakota State University (NDSU) to obtain initial quality information on the 2010 crop, an update on varieties, trends in new technologies including biotechnology and information on wheat supply and demand and other marketing factors. The trip will be rounded out by visits to the Northern Crops Institute at NDSU, the North Dakota Mill and a local farm and country elevator.

The team will be accompanied by Shane Townsend, Assistant Regional Director in South Asia for U.S. Wheat Associates. U.S. Wheat Associates works to maintain and improve export market opportunities for North Dakota wheat farmers and producers in 18 other states with support from the farmers themselves through a per bushel checkoff.