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Japanese flour millers tour U.S. grain marketing system

Four Japanese flour millers visited the United States Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 to meet with all sectors of the grain trade--from wheat breeders to grain inspectors and many more in between. U.S. Wheat Associates is sponsoring the team with assistance from the North Dakota Wheat Commission, Washington Grain Commission, Idaho Wheat Commission and Oregon Wheat Commission.

"USW provides continual updates to our Japanese customers on the quality of U.S. wheat, but flour millers want to know even more about the U.S. grain market and inspection systems," said USW Country Director Wataru "Charlie" Utsunomiya, who leads the team. "Visits like this one give team members not only the information they are looking for, but also the chance to interact with U.S. wheat farmers, breeders, traders and exporters."

This year's members of the annual mid-level management trade team made stops in North Dakota, Idaho and Oregon. Specifically, the team members learned about the influence of Canada's new free market system, current crop quality of hard red spring, durum and soft white wheat in addition to exchanging views on desirable end-use quality characteristics and development of biotech wheat.

U.S. wheat farmers have maintained a close connection with Japan since 1949, when the Oregon Wheat Growers League organized a trade delegation to Japan. That visit resulted in a variety of marketing and educational activities, including a school lunch program and a "Kitchen on Wheels" that traveled through rural Japan from 1956 to 1960. Since that time, Japan has purchased significantly more U.S. wheat than any other country, importing more than 133 million bushels per year on average for the last five years. Total U.S. wheat purchases now conservatively reach $700 million per year, more than 10 percent of total U.S. wheat exports.

USW is the industry's market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to "develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers." The activities of USW are made possible by producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and through cost-share funding provided by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit www.uswheat.org or contact your state wheat commission.

Date: 10/22/2012



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