Image courtesy of Kansas Wheat
The first Chinese wheat industry trade team to visit Kansas in over a decade was in Manhattan on Wednesday, November 1, as part of a five-state tour of the wheat industry. The trade team, organized by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and hosted locally by Kansas Wheat, aimed to learn more about the U.S. grain marketing system in terms of logistics, inspection and risk development and to better understand the advantages of U.S. wheat in terms of functionality in both Chinese steamed products and Western baked goods.
“USW has been working to bring a team of COFCO International managers to the United States for several years now, but several obstacles have prevented us from realizing our plans,” said USW regional vice president Jeff Coey, who accompanied the team. “The resumption of regular travel now allows us to bring them over to provide a personal look not only at the crop just harvested, but also at the prospects for next year’s crop. The team has asked a lot of questions that indicate they have a keen interest in our crop and in our merchandising system, and we’re excited to have the chance to show them as we answer all their questions.”
Team members represented COFCO International, a Chinese state-owned food processing holding company that sources grains from major wheat-producing countries for import into China. While China is the largest wheat producer in the world, the country is also the largest wheat consumer and importer, importing an estimated 440 million bushels (12 million metric tons) in the 2022-2023 marketing year.
Each of the trade team members was familiar with wheat trading and the individual wheat classes and their uses.
“We are delighted to welcome a very qualified and informed group of professionals in this Chinese team,” said Coey. “With eight individuals in all, the team represents both the buying and the processing sides of COFCO International, China’s major food trading and production group.”
Team members expressed interest in the investments made by growers in the development of better milling and baking wheat varieties, which speaks to their commitment to making a product that works for the entire value chain. The team got to see these investments firsthand at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center. They also met with Kansas wheat farmers, exporters, researchers and transportation companies. In addition to Kansas, the trade team also had scheduled stops in Oregon, Texas, North Dakota and Ohio.
“We are grateful to Kansas Wheat, the other state commissions and the entire supply chain for coordinating the activities and for hosting the team,” said Coey. “The itinerary is among the longest USW and our commission members have planned, covering all U.S. wheat classes and five major growing and logistical regions. We also hope to provide all our partners with better insights into what Chinese buyers are looking for in wheat varieties, service levels and possible educational and training linkups.”
For more information, visit kswheat.com/international.
Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat