Marketing Kansas-grown wheat to world buyers includes not only a quality and consistent crop, but strong relationships with those who buy it. For these reasons and more, sales of hard red winter wheat to Latin America have increased significantly in marketing year 2013/2014 with year to date sales to Central and South America at 5.33 MMT.
Two Kansas wheat commissioners have taken on the task of fostering these relationships by attending the 31st annual Latin American Millers Conference this week in Lima, Peru. Jason Ochs farmer from Syracuse, Kansas and David Radenberg of Claflin, Kansas represented Kansas wheat farmers by providing a growers perspective to those at the event. Ochs, a second-time conference attendee, said he enjoyed renewing friendships with buyers and being able to give insight as a producer of wheat.
“This conference provides an excellent opportunity for us as farmers to talk directly with millers and grain buyers to answer questions about last year’s crop quality and talk about our hopes for the crop we just planted,” said Ochs. “It’s also an excellent opportunity to hear what is on their minds and what they are looking for in terms of wheat quality; what they like and don’t like about our product.”
The event allows millers from numerous Latin American countries to come together to hear presentations on the latest industry research and technology as well as engage in discussions on individual country milling and baking trends. One such trend spotlighted was consumer and government connection of flour consumption with growing obesity problems. This shocked Commissioner Radenberg.
“It was incredibly interesting to hear their discussions about flour consumption trends and some countries efforts aimed at controlling obesity, that are at times, targeted at wheat foods. Especially when wheat is a key source of nutrients in a healthy diet,” said Radenberg. “Everyone seemed to realize that this attack on wheat flour consumption is serious and needs to be addressed.”
Radenberg said that the consumer trends were strikingly similar to the trends in the U.S. There is a focus on healthy, local and convenient. In Latin America younger people are spending less time preparing food and more families have both parents working, leading to a great demand for ready-to-eat foods.
Each year about half of the wheat in Kansas is exported, but this year several factors are pushing exports to Latin American countries beyond expectations. Aaron Harries, director of marketing for the Kansas Wheat Commission said Latin American countries are an important market for hard red winter wheat producers, particularly those from the southern plains.
“Much of the wheat that Latin America imports is sourced through the Gulf of Mexico or sent south from the plains states on rail,” Harries said. “This year exports are even higher as Argentina, a traditionally major supplier for the region has been plagued by production challenges and government policies that discourage wheat production.”
The conference also allowed Kansas representatives to share what further work is being done to improve the product coming from the U.S. Radenberg said he enjoyed sharing the progress that Kansas farmers have made to contribute to providing a better quality product.
“It’s great to talk with millers, bakers and merchandisers about the research investment that Kansas farmers are making in the development of future varieties that ensure consistent quality and ample supplies of wheat in the future,” said Radenberg.