Because cookie, cakes and pastry consumption has grown sharply in the Arab Gulf region, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) focuses its marketing activity on the intrinsic functional quality of U.S. soft white (SW) and soft red winter (SRW) for such products.
Market growth is indicated in part by a large volume cookie and snack manufacturing facility opened in Bahrain in 2018 by a global baking company. To help regional flour millers compete to supply this and other cookie and snack makers, USW has once again leveraged the Quality Samples Program (QSP) and the Market Access Program (MAP) to demonstrate the value of SW wheat flour.
QSP has been a versatile tool for developing U.S. wheat markets. For example, USW shipped several containers of SW to a flour milling and baking customer in the United Arab Emirates. That wheat arrived in November 2020 and USW guided the company through milling and finished cookie production virtually. The company liked SW quality and performance, yet end-customer resistance to a premium price held back commercial sales.
However, USW’s introduction of “solvent retention capacity” flour analysis and additional activities helped this UAE customer prove that it can supply flour milled from SW or SRW that meets the extremely specific flour quality demanded by the large regional manufacturer. USW provided marketing and technical support multiple times in 2021, including virtual consulting to help the company present specifications of SW and SRW flour to its regional customer. The activities included the first in-person technical support in October 2021.
USW conducted a similar activity under QSP and MAP with the Kuwait Flour Mills and Bakeries in 2021.
Cost is a factor in the Arab Gulf market and following the Pacific Northwest drought in 2021, SW export prices increased dramatically. The cost of U.S. SRW wheat imports also increased but less so compared to SW. In 2021/22, U.S. SRW commercial sales to the UAE reached 44,000 metric tons (MT), valued at $18.2 million. That is up from about 11,500 MT of SRW sales and about 2,700 MT of SW sales in 2020/21.