U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) invested Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program funds in 2021 to protect hard red winter wheat exports to Honduras as U.S. wheat prices increased.
Honduras is the second largest U.S. wheat importer in Central America, having purchased an average of 289,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat per year from 2015/16 to 2019/20. The volume of hard red winter (HRW) in that annual total increased from about 66,500 MT in 2019/20 to about 154,000 MT in 2020/21.
Then, rising export prices in 2021 added a constraint to U.S. HRW demand in Honduras.
USW’s most effective activities there focus on technical support to help flour millers get the most value from their imports and improve flour and baking quality. That effort continued in 2021/22, and was conducted virtually.
In October 2021, USW regional technical staff and milling consultant Andrea Saturno worked virtually with a large Honduran milling group. He helped integrate data between purchasing and milling operations to quantify stored wheat losses. Just one month after the virtual service, the company was able to cut stored wheat loss in half from about 1.5% to 0.7%, a significant cost savings. For another Honduran mill, in August 2021, Saturno’s process recommendations provided a 0.5% increase in flour yield, increased filtering capacity and, after also installing new automation, a potential 10% savings in packaging costs.
Also in August 2021, USW and Spanish-speaking baking consultant Didier Rosada virtually demonstrated to the largest wheat importer in Honduras how it could improve its finished flour and bread products. Rosada showed how traditional-style baking processes using a blend of U.S. HRW and hard red spring (HRS)wheat flour improves bread taste and quality without added ingredients. After implementing the new process, the company saw improvements and a 5% increase in flour sales.
Even as U.S. HRW and other wheat class prices increased, as of mid-April 2022, HRW exports to Honduras were about 160,000 MT, compared to a total of 154,000 MT in 2020/21. Total U.S. wheat sales to Honduras of more than 286,000 MT were similar to the 2020/21 volume in spite of the higher import costs and valued at about $75 million.