Grain News

Japan Millers Visit North Dakota to Inspect Spring and Durum Wheat Crops

Date Posted: August 30, 2013

A team of mid-level flour milling managers will be in North Dakota this week to gain a better understanding of U.S. wheat breeding, production, handling and marketing systems.

The four team members, all of whom are involved in flour production and quality control for their respective companies, will also gain firsthand knowledge of this year's hard red spring (HRS) wheat and durum crops.

"These team visits reinforce the strong relationship between Japanese millers and U.S. wheat farmers," said USW Japan Country Director Wataru "Charlie" Utsunomiya, who will accompany the team.

"It is important to help mid-level managers, who will eventually have full responsibility for production and evaluating inputs, gain insight and perspective into U.S. wheat's consistently high quality, reliability and value."

According to Francis Leiphon, NDWC Chairman, Japan is an important customer for North Dakota wheat.

"Japan imports nearly 120 million bushels of U.S. wheat on an annual basis, with nearly 50 million bushels of that being HRS.

"They are our top HRS customer year after year and we need to make sure we are satisfying their needs, specifically as they relate to quality."

Japan's milling and baking industries are highly advanced, sophisticated and fully automated.

A modern baking plant produces 600-700 different items daily utilizing more than 30 blends of flour of various classes.

"They maintain high standards of quality and cleanliness but they also pay premium prices for that quality.

"Securing a high market share in Japan supports stronger prices for North Dakota wheat producers," Leiphon adds.

While Japan imports primarily HRS, white and hard red winter wheat classes, they do import small amounts of durum and there is potential for increased demand in coming years.

To meet the team's objectives, the group will visit with HRS and durum breeding and quality specialists at North Dakota State University, receive a supply and demand outlook from NDWC staff, and visit a local elevator and the Northern Crops Institute.

The team will also receive an update on new and emerging wheat breeding techniques, and meet directly with North Dakota producers.

This, and other trade team visits are essential to keeping dialogue open between customers and producers to ensure the wheat being purchased meets the needs of the end user, and better position our wheat in a highly competitive market for the 2013 crop.

U.S. Wheat Associates works to maintain and improve export market opportunities for North Dakota wheat farmers and producers in 18 other states with support from the farmers themselves through a per bushel checkoff.

For more information, call 701-328-5111.

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