Posted June 14, 2017
It is a good time to promote U.S. milling wheat in Sub-Saharan African markets. The price of imported milling wheat weighs heavily among buyers in the region, and U.S. hard red winter (HRW) and other U.S. wheat classes have become more price competitive. To make a clear and timely case for the value and benefits of U.S. wheat, several flour milling executives from Nigeria and South Africa will be in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Minnesota June 18 to 29, 2017, as part of a trade team sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and wheat commissions from those states.
The team will be hosted by the Kansas Wheat Commission during their time in Kansas. While here, the members will be visiting the IGP Institute, the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, USDA Center for Grain and Animal Health Research and meeting Kansas wheat farmers while on a harvest visit.
“We have worked hard to keep wheat buyers in our region well-informed about U.S. wheat quality because when the price is right, flour millers here will buy it,” said USW Regional Vice President Ed Wiese. For many years, Wiese has directed U.S. wheat promotion to 36 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa from a regional office in Cape Town, South Africa. Consumers in Nigeria and South Africa prefer “high-loaf” pan bread, which is best produced with flour from medium protein, sourced mainly from the central and southern Plains states.
Nigerian mills bought more Hard Red Winter wheat in the marketing year 2016/17 than in the previous year. A total of about 58 million bushels of Hard Red Winter wheat in Nigeria was imported, 50 percent more than last year.
South Africa (S.A.) is a smaller market than Nigeria, but annual per capita wheat consumption is almost 139 pounds, the highest in the Sub-Saharan region. Though it varies widely year to year, South Africa produces about 50 percent of its 128.6 million bushel annual wheat consumption. Wheat breeders and flour millers are working together to develop improved protein varieties of wheat for S.A. farmers so it can be blended with imported wheat. Millers prefer imports of HRW and similar classes of German and Argentinian wheat and tend to buy more of whatever is the least expensive offerings.
U.S. HRW was much more competitive in marketing year 2016/17. In fact, S.A. millers imported HRW for the first time in five years. Millers there imported the most total U.S. wheat since 2007/08, nine years ago. To keep up the momentum, USW hopes representatives from a large S.A. miller on the trade team will be even better prepared to take advantage of favorable prices and good quality of HRW in 2017/18.
“Nigerian flour millers continue to be extremely good customers for Kansas wheat farmers,” said Aaron Harries, Vice President of Research and Operations at Kansas Wheat. “Fifty percent of the Kansas wheat crop is exported every year, and Nigeria has been the top buyer in recent years. They love the consistent quality they get in wheat from the U.S. We want to be able to grow our market share in the Sub-Saharan region and build the same relationship of trust with our buyers in South Africa.”