July 20, 2015

20/07/2015: Wheat Commissions host Japanese millers to build confidence in US supplies

Japanese consumers demand the highest quality and safety in their food. To help maintain a preference for US wheat to produce the best wheat foods, US Wheat Associates (USW) worked with the Washington Grain Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission and Idaho Wheat Commission to arrange a visit to those states for four Japanese milling executives July 5 to 12, 2015. The trip introduced the executives to the effective US wheat export supply chain from breeding to inspection and port logistics. Funding for this team was provided by the contributions of wheat farmers to USW through their state commissions.

Millers on this team were executives from mid-sized milling companies representing Japan’s National Cooperative of Millers. The first trade team from this group of millers visited the United States in 2014.
Udon wheat noodles are a Japanese favourite (Image: Hiroyuki Takeda)
“This will be the first opportunity for some of these managers to personally observe all sectors of the Pacific Northwest wheat trade,” said Steve Wirsching, USW vice president and director of the West Coast office before the visit.
“That is important because they can influence Japan’s government grain buying decisions.”

“Our market share remains strong because US farmers continue to grow top quality wheat, and because we keep all of our Japanese customers fully informed about quality, supply and prices,” said Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, USW Country Manager for Japan, who led the team.

“However, we do compete with Canadian spring wheat and Australian white wheat. That is why we give milling executives the chance to discuss our logistical and quality assurance systems face-to-face with US wheat farmers, breeders and exporters.”

Starting their trip in Lewiston, Idaho, the team toured a country elevator and a terminal elevator on the Snake River, followed by a tour and dinner at Idaho wheat commissioner Joe Anderson’s farm in Genesee.

The team continued their trip in eastern Washington for two days. They started in Pullman to hear from Washington State University (WSU) wheat breeders about the potential for new varieties, developed with public funds, to improve quality as well as yield. A visit to the USDA Agricultural Research Service Wheat Quality Laboratory offered assurance that the industry’s commitment to quality remains well established and supported by the US federal government. As they travelled south toward the Columbia River, the millers observed wheat harvest and met with commercial grain handlers, with a final stop to see how wheat seed production incorporates technology to minimise environmental impact and improve safety.

In their final leg of the trip, the team had much to see in Oregon. Their day in eastern Oregon started at the Pendleton Flour Mill, and included a visit to the Bob Johns farm in Athena and a tour of the Oregon State University Pendleton-Ruggs Wheat Research Station. The millers completed their observations the next day with a broad overview of the Portland area export system. Following a meeting with USW’s West Coast Office staff, regional managers with the Federal Grain Inspection Service detailed their inspection system, which the team saw in action later in the day at Columbia Grain’s export elevator. The Wheat Marketing Centre will also emphasise the quality of end-products that include flour from PNW wheat.

Visit the USW site HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine GFMT
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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