Ecuador trade team visit focuses on U.S. Wheat competitive advantages
In an increasingly competitive world market, U.S. Wheat Associates must be positioned to help U.S. wheat farmers take advantage of any opportunity, according to those who work in foreign trade.
Ecuador presented one such opportunity after the Canadian Wheat Board lost its export monopoly control on Aug. 1, 2012. And, in the past year, USW has turned an ongoing relationship with flour millers in Ecuador into increased sales. This summer, USW has brought a team of experienced Ecuadoran wheat buyers to the United States June 16 to 22 to learn more about the advantages of U.S. wheat and the export supply system.
“Despite heavy competition from the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly, USW managed to gain a decent share of the market,” said USW regional vice president Alvaro de la Fuente, who will lead the trade mission. “Now, we are competing equally with Canada on the basis of quality and value and U.S. wheat commercial sales are up more than 50 percent year over year.”
Ecuador has imported more than 540,000 metric tons of wheat per year on average since marketing year 2007-08. Canadian spring wheat made up the largest share of the total, but U.S. soft red winter, hard red winter and soft white wheat commercial sales for 2012-2013 (June to May) reached more than 7.6 million bushels (205,800 metric tons), compared to a 5-year average of 5.1 million bushels (139,000 metric tons).
One of the goals of this trade mission is to demonstrate the value of hard red winter or blends of hard red winter and U.S. hard red spring with soft white or soft red white compared to Canadian spring wheat.
“With minor adjustments, bakers can lower their costs with flour blends milled from U.S. wheat without compromising quality,” de la Fuente said.
The team’s first stop is Portland, Ore., where there is access to U.S wheat supply systems from the wheat farms to end product education at the Wheat Marketing Center. Buyers will also learn how opportune it is to source multiple wheat classes and protein levels from the Pacific Northwest. In Oklahoma, the team will see hard red winter wheat in the field, observe how that wheat moves efficiently to market and get a first look at hard red winter quality for 2013-14. Price discovery, quality certification and trade considerations will be featured in the team’s final stop in Kansas City, Mo.
In addition to generous support from the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, USW worked with Kansas Wheat, the Oregon Wheat Commission, the Wheat Marketing Center, the Federal Grain Inspection Service and grain trade companies to organize the Ecuador trade team.