Nigerian trade team shows preference for U.S. wheat
A Nigerian trade team traveling to Kansas last week represented some of the largest milling companies in the African country, which remains the largest customer of U.S. hard red winter wheat. In the marketing year that ended May 31, Nigeria imported more than 110 million bushels of wheat--much of which comes from Kansas. Nigeria is the only country that imports all six classes of wheat and was the top overall buyer of U.S. wheat in 2009-10.
Through the 1.5 cent per bushel wheat assessment, the U.S. Wheat Associates and Kansas Wheat Commission have worked diligently over the past several years to cultivate the relationship between Nigeria and the United States. USW opened an office in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2001. This in-country presence and a long-term commitment to technical training and exchanges have combined to build strong Nigerian loyalty to U.S.-origin wheat. That expertise has helped Nigeria's flour millers develop a unique type of pan bread, which is one of the most common and inexpensive sources of food for Nigerians.
The trade team visited one of the Kansas Wheat Commission-funded research programs at AIB International (formerly the American Institute of Baking) in Manhattan, a wheat farm during harvest and several other locations in Manhattan and Kansas City.
In addition to its educational value, trade teams can also provide specific opportunities to increase demand for U.S. wheat. For example, as result of contacts made on a trade team visit in 2008, Flour Mills of Nigeria, the world's second largest miller, began importing U.S. hard white wheat to produce specialty blended flour. Today, Flour Mills of Nigeria is the world's leading hard white wheat importer, purchasing 140,000 MT in 2009-2010.
Rajesh Gaggar, head of procurement and logistics for DUFIL Prima Foods in Ota, Nigeria, says his company holds 75 percent market share of the nation's rapidly expanding instant noodle market. The United States continues to offer the most consistent supply of high-quality wheat, which is necessary to produce a high-quality product for Nigeria's people. Gaggar's company buys 500 tons of wheat per day.
"When you talk about food, a consistent supply is more important than anything else," says Gaggar, who notes that political instability in some African countries is due in large part to the lack of inexpensive food.
Gaggar says the U.S. Wheat Associates' trade assistance and training programs have been instrumental in helping the Nigerian noodle market grow and develop. U.S. Wheat matches grower investment dollars two-to-one with federal money. All of it goes toward marketing wheat grown by American farmers.
"U.S. Wheat does a great job. Without their assistance, we would not be able to use U.S. wheat. Other nations are far, far behind what the U.S. Wheat Associates does," Gaggar says.