Visiting Caribbean Flour Millers Represent New Market Potential for U.S. Wheat

Posted August 14, 2015

It makes sense that Caribbean countries import most of their wheat from its nearby neighbor, the United States, but changes in the milling industry present new opportunities to reach even more markets in the region. The week of Aug. 16, four current and potential wheat buyers from Guyana, Haiti, St. Vincent and Trinidad who want to learn more about U.S. wheat quality and its supply system will visit North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Louisiana. USW is sponsoring this team visit in cooperation with its state wheat commission members and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). 

“These are senior managers in their milling operations, but they are either new to the industry or have a history of purchasing wheat from competing origins,” said Chad Weigand, USW assistant regional manager, Mexico City, Mexico, who will travel with the team. “The farmers, wheat merchandizers and federal grain inspectors the millers will meet on this trip will share many reasons why U.S. wheat should be their primary supply.”

Weigand said this visit supports an opportunity for growth, as well as to overcome challenges, in the region from new flour mills. That is why this team includes a representative from a new mill in Haiti that started operating only in the past year. The manager from St. Vincent on this team will also participate because his mill will soon have to compete with a new mill on the island of St. Lucia that will likely use French wheat. His participation will allow him to discuss opportunities with suppliers to ship to multiple destinations in the Caribbean. 

“Building knowledge and confidence in the U.S. supply system has been a successful strategy,” Weigand said. “We invited the general manager of a Trinidad flour mill who has been in the industry for just one year to participate in the team. And, based on several years of trade and technical service by USW, the Guyana executive on the team is transitioning to U.S. HRS wheat after purchasing Canadian spring wheat for many years.”

Weigand also noted that this will be the first USW-sponsored wheat buyer team to visit the new export grain terminal in the Port of Lake Charles, LA, now operated by the international commodities company Tradiverse. The Lake Charles facility, which includes a grain cleaning system, is the first new export terminal built in the U.S. Gulf tributary in 30 years.