ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. —A group of six European flour millers were giving a tour of the U.S. wheat supply system June 21-27, 2015, on their trade team visits to North Dakota, Minnesota and Ohio. The team of six participants from Italy, Spain and Malta include millers from companies of varying sizes and an Italian wheat trader who does business with the mills. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) worked with the North Dakota Wheat Commission, the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council and the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program to organize this team.

“Some of these millers are owners or someday will take over the family business,” said Rutger Koekoek, USW Rotterdam Office marketing specialist, who will travel with the team. “They have responsibilities spanning procurement, production, quality control and so this visit gives the U.S. wheat industry the opportunity to develop a relationship with the next generation of decision makers.”

Based on a five-year average, the USW European Union (E.U.) region, which includes Israel, annually imports about 400,000 tonnes of hard red spring (HRS) wheat. Italy is the largest European importer of HRS wheat, averaging 70% of total European imports of HRS over the past three years. “These countries look to U.S. wheat for quality in HRS wheat that is ideal for use in high quality flour mixes and soft red winter wheat that is suited for biscuits, crackers and pastries,” said Koekoek. “It is important that customers feel confident about both the product and the system.”

Members of the trade team will see each step of the grain supply chain for HRS in North Dakota and Minnesota, and for soft red winter (SRW) wheat in Ohio. The schedule includes farm tours and discussions with university wheat breeders about how they are improving U.S. wheat qualities in ways that are important to overseas customers. The trip will also give participants an in depth look at the U.S. wheat grading, marketing and transportation systems.