The U.S. and China Phase 1 agreement enabled imports of U.S. wheat without a differential tariff penalty. In early 2021, China’s state trading company COFCO imported more than 1.2 million metric tons (MMT) of U.S. hard red winter (HRW), which is ideal to help meet China’s massive demand for baking flour.
However, few Chinese flour millers were familiar with HRW. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) wanted to be sure COFCO’s good intentioned purchase was matched with appropriate technical support to end-user flour mills. Three Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program activities fully supported this goal.
In May 2021, USW partnered with COFCO and Buhler Manufacturing to conduct HRW training for 17 flour milling companies. Held in person at Buhler’s Wuxi, China, facility, topics everything needed to successfully mill HRW. The millers told USW the training improved their understanding of HRW. In February 2022, USW contacted the millers again and six participating mills said they had increased the volume of HRW in their operations.
In August 2021, USW demonstrated HRW flour in Chinese-style products in an ATP-funded webinar for 84 representatives from more than 40 Chinese milling and trading companies. The webinar focused applied HRW milling data from the May training course to Chinese-style noodle and steamed bun production. COFCO told USW the activities efforts helped it market HRW to flour mills across China. And a participating company told USW it had expanded use of HRW from baked goods to Chinese-style products after the webinar.
Imports of U.S. HRW, soft red winter and soft white wheat continued into 2021/22, though at a reduced pace and total in part because of rising U.S. prices relative to other suppliers. An important strategy in this swing market is to continue demonstrating the benefits of U.S. HRW and other wheat classes.
USW will continue demonstrating the HRW and other U.S. wheat class benefits in partnership with the Sino-American Baking School (SABS) in Guangzhou. The ATP program helped USW keep SABS current with modern technology like frozen dough products that support U.S. wheat purchases. Now, with new blast freezing systems and other commercial equipment upgrades funded by ATP, SABS and USW will be able to maintain influence within China’s baking industry and support future commercial sales.