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Despite surplus wheat stocks and U.S. wheat prices that frequently exceeded the price of competing supplies, 2011/12 U.S. wheat sales to several countries reached record levels. Our customers recognized the value of U.S. wheat — backed by the fact that U.S. wheat farmers have consistently produced abundant, high-quality crops and supported the effort of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to answer questions and resolve issues in purchasing, shipping or using all six classes of wheat. Through USW, our overseas customers get professional technical assistance and personalized consulting that help strengthen their milling, baking and wheat food industries.
In Thailand, for example, USW provides personalized wheat food production consulting. USW baking experts Roy Chung and Phua Lock Yang plan and conduct frequent baking seminars, including a USW Frozen Dough Technology Course, in cooperation with the U.F.M. Baking & Cooking School in Bangkok, Thailand, and leading yeast company Lesaffre Group. Frozen dough is gaining popularity in the region, so organizations send baking trainees from Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Sri Lanka to the course to improve their competitive position through education. U.S. wheat sales to Thailand peaked at 20.5 million bushels last year.
Record sales of more than 1.3 billion bushels to Mexico in 2011/12 also reflect the migration of more people to the cities, where new jobs mean more disposable income and the ability to buy higher quality wheat foods. Familiar retailers like Walmart are opening in Mexican cities to meet this need. That is why USW offers a range of technical assistance that is helping millers and wheat food processors meet that demand. For example, USW is helping artisan bakers use flour made from U.S. wheat to change formulations to make traditional Mexican breads healthier without sacrificing flavor and texture. USW Technical Specialist Marcelo Mitre is also working with a flour milling consultant to help identify the best functional flour for tortilla production made from soft white (SW), soft red winter (SRW) and hard red winter (HRW).
Japan imported more U.S. wheat in 2011/12 than ever before at 1.4 billion bushels, just a bit more than Mexico, to be the leading U.S. wheat importer in the world. To fill in some gaps left by local production problems since 2011, Japan turned to higher priced U.S. supplies in part because USW keeps Japanese buyers well-informed about quality and market conditions.