A team consisting of representatives from some of the largest and most prominent Japanese flour milling companies will be in the state September 19-20 to gain a better understanding of U.S. wheat breeding, production and marketing systems. The team members are directly involved in flour production and quality control of their respective mills and want to increase their knowledge of the U.S. system to ensure their customers a safe and reliable wheat supply.
Japan is a 120 million bushel market for U.S. wheat and hard red spring (HRS) wheat is the largest class of wheat exported. In 2010-11, the country imported just under 60 million bushels of HRS, the second largest quantity on record. Japan is consistently the number one buyer of U.S. HRS and accounts for about 25 percent of total U.S. HRS exports.
“Japan is one of our most reliable HRS customers and is a very sophisticated market. After many years of providing service in the market, we know what they want but we always welcome the opportunity to meet with our Japanese customers to address any concerns they may have, learn of new product trends and reinforce our commitment to producing high quality spring wheat,” says Neal Fisher, NDWC Administrator. “Last year, the U.S. supplied about 64 percent of their total wheat needs, but there is always strong competition, especially from Canada and Australia. These visits are imperative to maximizing our market share in a market which pays premium prices.”
The group will meet with spring wheat and durum breeders and quality specialists at North Dakota State University to discuss the breeding and quality programs – specifically which quality and end use traits are desirable in current and future wheat varieties. They will also get the latest information on the quality of the 2011 HRS and durum crops. Another area of interest is the competition wheat acreage faces from biotech crops and how producers make their crop choices from year to year. The group will also visit Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton and the Todd Ellison farm near Mapleton.
Accompanying the team will be Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, Director of the U.S. Wheat Associates’ Tokyo office. U.S. Wheat Associates works in more than 100 countries to maintain and improve export market opportunities for North Dakota wheat farmers and producers in 18 other states with support from the farmers themselves through a per bushel checkoff.