Wheat checkoff promotes whole wheat consumption in Asia
Whether they live in New York or Beijing, consumers are eating more whole wheat foods. Yet whole wheat products are still relatively new to Asian consumers--and to the flour millers and bakers who serve them.
By sharing expertise and experience with milling and baking whole wheat flour, U.S. Wheat Associates is helping an industry with strong growth potential overcome challenges while promoting U.S. wheat as the ideal source for high-quality, tasty whole wheat products.
Wheat farmers support the U.S. Wheat Associates through state wheat checkoff collections, of which some of the funds are used for international market development. Kansas wheat producers Jay Armstrong, Muscotah and Ron Suppes, Dighton, serve on the U.S. Wheat board of directors.
Millers and bakers must adjust what may be hide-bound processes to produce whole wheat products. Without proven production guidelines, these changes may result in inferior products. For example, some products labeled as whole wheat in South Korea may contain less than 1 percent whole wheat because there is no official definition of what constitutes "whole grain." There is resistance, too, from older Koreans who negatively associate whole grains with the hardships of the Korean War.
Additionally, bakers in Taiwan complain that local whole wheat flour is too coarse and produces baked goods with poor texture.
USW is helping millers and bakers develop and promote the best industry standards and production protocols, creating a strong opportunity to place U.S. wheat as the ideal choice for high-quality whole wheat products. For example, the USW Seoul Office, the Korean Master Bakers Association, and Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association organized five whole wheat baking seminars in 2011. These seminars included lectures on whole wheat flour characteristics, nutritional value and application technology for bakery products.
Back in the United States, a Korean team of two flour millers, a professional baker and a research scientist--sponsored by USW--gathered at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore. There, the group developed production protocols for breads made with whole grain flour, specifically using U.S. hard red spring, soft white and hard red winter wheat.
In addition to assisting millers and bakers, USW has also earned enough respect to help foreign government officials promote whole wheat products. The Taiwan Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection has specifically invited USW to help establish national standards for whole wheat flour and whole wheat baking products. USW's efforts to promote whole wheat products even encouraged the Taiwan Department of Health to set up a guide to encourage consumers to eat whole wheat products as part of at least one meal a day.
Every new industry inevitably faces challenges, but when it comes to wheat, USW is there to help with technical know-how and personalized trade servicing, backed by the highest quality, most reliable source of wheat in the world.