FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, U.S. — A team of six quality control and procurement managers from mills in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam attended the South Asia Contracting for Wheat Value Workshop at Northern Crops Institute (NCI), Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., from Sept. 9-12. The workshop concluded with sessions at the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) office, Portland, Oregon, U.S.

The workshop, sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), was designed to teach the team how to better manage their supply chain challenges and how to write contracts that accurately specify the wheat they want to purchase. 

“It is very important to bring buyers from Southeast Asia to the U.S., and in particular to NCI, so that we can make those grower-to-buyer connections, which are very powerful in promoting U.S. wheat overseas,” said Steve Wirsching, vice-president, USW, West Coast office.  “The person-to-person connections and the connections we make out at the farms, at the country elevator level, and here at NCI are very good and very long lasting.

“We are basically demonstrating how contract specifications will impact the end-uses in quality and functionality of their wheat.  We will show them what different protein levels will do to their products, and why it’s really important to use high-protein spring wheat as opposed to any other wheat that they may be sourcing from Australia or Canada.  Lastly, we will demonstrate how the U.S. high protein spring wheat is the best fit for their markets as well as a superior product to wheat they may find elsewhere.”

Participants learned about wheat quality testing and procurement through lectures and end product evaluation.  Workshop topics included U.S. wheat market overview; world and U.S. wheat supply and demand overview; understanding analytical tests for flour and dough quality; functionality test demonstrations; inland logistics;  end product evaluations and relationships to physical, chemical, and functional lab tests; wheat class differences and similarities between U.S. and competitors; developing a wheat value matrix; and purchase quality specifications.

The group also toured Greg Svenningsen’s farm near Valley City, North Dakota, U.S.  They were hosted by Darren Bjornson as they toured the Columbia Grain Elevator, Valley City, North Dakota, U.S.  

“The milling and baking industries in Southeast Asia are thriving and creating excellent opportunities for exports of U.S. wheat classes.  In the past five years, Southeast Asia's strong economic growth and increasing middle class is driving change in diets,” said Mike Spier, regional vice-president for USW Singapore.  “In Indonesia, around seven million people per year move into the middle class. Consumers are better off financially and are buying more high quality wheat-based foods. These fundamental factors are the driving force behind a remarkable increase in bakery sales and expansion in milling capacity in Southeast Asia.   

“The Contracting for Value Workshop and other USW activities are important because they help to differentiate the baking quality of U.S wheat classes versus the competition. Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam import 400 million bushels from all origins. The three mills participating in the workshop import 150 million bushels from all origins and in MY 2012-13 imported 45 million bushels of HRS. Over the last decade, wheat imports by mills in the Southeast Asia region year-on-year average is 5%.  Mills in the region buy based on price, value, quality and service.”

The workshop was coordinated by John Crabtree, NCI assistant director.  Workshop speakers and technicians included:  Rachel Carlson, NCI food technologist; Roy Chung, USW baking consultant, Singapore; Mike Krueger, The Money Farm; Senay Simsek, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences; Joe Sowers, USW assistant regional director, Singapore; Mike Spier, USW regional vice-president, Singapore; Mark Weber, NCI director; William Wilson, NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics; and Steve Wirsching, USW director, Portland office.