The team is sponsored by USW and will meet with the Oregon Wheat Commission, the Wheat Marketing Center, the Washington Grain Commission, the Nebraska Wheat Board, the Chicago Board of Trade and U.S. grain trading companies during its visit.
“This organization holds import/export rights for cereal and feed grains,” said USW China/Hong Kong Regional Vice-President Matt Weimer, who will lead the team. “It is a purchasing agent for several Chinese flour millers that currently need imported, high-quality wheat to blend with domestic wheat to help meet increasing demand for more premium wheat food products.”
Weimar said to continue positioning U.S. wheat as the most valuable choice to meet that need, the team’s visit will help demonstrate U.S. wheat crop quality and how the U.S. wheat supply system works to ensure specifications are met.
In China, USW also offers personalized consultation for flour millers and wheat food processors. For example, Dr. Gary Hou, technical director and Asian foods specialist with the Wheat Marketing Center, travelled to China last April as a USW whole grain products consultant. Hou presented technical aspects of using whole wheat flour versus refined flour presented to nearly 200 participants at the first ever Whole Grain Foods Development International Forum.
Following the conference, Hou and USW Country Director Andy Zhao, who is based in Beijing, visited flour mills to discuss the benefits of using U.S. wheat in whole grain products. For example, they noted how U.S. soft white (SW) wheat could help maintain the bright white color preferred by Chinese consumers. Additionally, they showed how the stronger gluten in U.S. hard red winter (HRW) or hard red spring (HRS) wheat could address technical challenges with including the bran and germ in flour.
In just the first four months of the current marketing year, China has imported more than 11 million bushels of U.S. wheat including 5.3 million bushels of HRS, 2.6 million bushels of SW, and 3 million bushels of soft red winter (SRW) wheat. That is more than double what China imported in 2010-11 and more than it imported in 2009-10. COFCO, a diversified products and services supplier in agribusiness and food industries, is the largest importer of U.S. wheat in China.
Weimar said the team will also investigate opportunities to import U.S. wheat in containers, a delivery method preferred over bulk vessel shipments in many parts of China. Australia is currently meeting Chinese container load demand of as much as 18 million bushels per year.