Chad Weigand, USW assistant regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, said U.S. wheat exports to Venezuela are not as strong as they once were, in part because increased government intervention and limited access to U.S. dollars have forced millers there to make cost the primary buying criterion.
Venezuela imports durum, high protein spring wheat and soft red winter wheat. However, current market conditions there have given Mexican durum a competitive advantage. Canadian western red spring wheat has only recently come up in price to near parity with U.S. HRS wheat, but the high U.S. dollar value continues to favor Canadian origin export prices. For the vibrant cookie and snack market in Venezuela, soft red winter grown in eastern Canada continues to compete with U.S. SRW.
Participants on this team represent some of the largest mills in Venezuela, but they do not have significant knowledge of U.S. wheat quality, its marketing system or federal inspection services, the USW said.
“With key decision makers like these, we have to demonstrate why performance and value is worth more, but it is very difficult for our staff to conduct activities in Venezuela,” said Weigand. “By coordinating with our state wheat commissions, however, we can bring these customers to the United States to see our production and export system at work. That first-hand experience will help increase their confidence in U.S. wheat.”
Weigand, who is based in USW’s regional office in Mexico City, Mexico, is leading the team, which includes Jenny Villasuso, purchasing manager for MONACA, the second largest milling group in Venezuela. Laura Paz is purchasing and quality manager for Pastas Capri in Caracas, one of Venezuela’s largest pasta producers. Violeta Rosales is purchasing manager for Molinos Hidalgo, which operates a mill in Catia La Mar.