Philippine trade team visits Kansas Wheat

Posted August 21, 2014

Wheat buyers from the Republic of the Philippines long ago discovered the quality, value and reliability of U.S. wheat. Trade relationships with Philippine buyers have been maintained for more than 50 years and have resulted in the Philippines being the United States’ fifth largest market for wheat. In order to maintain this relationship, U.S. Wheat Associates brought five Philippine milling industry customers to the United States from Aug. 6-16. These managers have a diverse range of responsibilities and experience, said Manila-based Joe Sowers, USW assistant regional director for South Asia, who traveled with the team. 

“U.S. wheat has been a big part of the Filipino milling and baking industry for more than 50 years,” Sowers said. “Coming to the United States helps these new customers understand the work farmers, grain handlers and the USDA put into producing and delivering high-quality wheat and services that can help them grow their businesses.”

Kansas made up the last leg of the tour for the trade team. Over the last two days of their trip, they spent time visiting facilities in the state that showcased the professionalism and quality of the U.S. wheat industry. Their first stop in the state was visiting the Federal Grain Inspection Service Tech Center to learn about the inspection process. Next, the team visited Best Harvest Bakery, one of the bakeries that creates buns for popular fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s, out of Kansas grown hard red winter wheat. The team then toured the International Grains Program and learned about the programs and courses the IGP Institute offers. The team also visited the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center to talk with staff and to learn about the research that is driving innovation in the wheat industry.

Team participants also visited other locations around the country, including stops in Oregon, Washington and North Dakota. Because of the many tours and stops the team took, they were able to get a field-to-vessel look at the country’s wheat industry. Many different topics were covered throughout the trip, including breeding, production, transportation, inspection and certification services and innovative uses. 

Aaron Harries, director of marketing for Kansas Wheat, accompanied the team on their travels through America’s Breadbasket.

Harries said, “The Philippines is consistently one of the top five markets for all classes of U.S. wheat. Unfortunately, their smallest purchase is of hard red winter wheat.  Their visit gives us a chance to promote the quality and durability of hard red winter wheat.”

The Republic of the Philippines started off as a small customer of U.S. wheat in 1961 by purchasing 200,000 metric tons (7.35 million bushels). But over the last 53 years their demand has increased to nearly 2.2 million metric tons (80.8 million bushels) in this last marketing year. The U.S. supplied over 93% of the Philippines’ wheat imports last year. The Philippine milling industry is a dynamic, and growing, market. After not seeing a new entrant in the commercial flour market since 1990, two new mills entered the market last year and two more are under construction. After years of stagnant growth in the Philippine milling industry, the flour market is expected to grow significantly and trade relations are expected to flourish.