Cigi visit to Brazil offers insight on potential of Canadian wheat

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Brazilian millers, bakers, wheat traders and a pasta processor learned about the quality and potential use of Canadian wheat from Cigi milling and baking technical staff in early March. The three Cigi representatives on the Brazilian wheat and baking investigative mission held a seminar for 26 industry participants in Sao Paulo in southern Brazil and visited two major mills further north in Fortaleza.

During January and February, Brazil imported one million tonnes of wheat which included 111,000 MT from Canada, according to Arbitrigo, a Brazilian association of wheat industries. The companies represented at the Sao Paulo seminar also import from nearby countries such as Argentina, as well as use local wheat.

“There’s a trade and economic agreement involving several  South American countries called Mercosur that has tariffs for wheat importation, so Brazil has to give purchase benefits to  member countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and locally before they can buy from elsewhere, “ says Juan Carlos Arriola, Cigi Technical Specialist in Milling Technology. He participated in the mission with Yvonne Supeene, Head of Cigi Baking Technology and Rosa Boyd, Baking Technologist (the Cigi team is shown in the above photo, from l. to r. Juan Carlos, Yvonne, and Rosa).

“About half of the one million tonnes Brazil imported in January and February was from the U.S.,” he says. “That means it is possible to increase the participation of Canadian wheat in that market outside the Mercosur tariffs.”

Juan Carlos says that in Brazil, Canadian wheat, mainly CWRS, is blended to increase flour strength. In Sao Paulo in particular the industry prefers good stability in dough which Canadian wheat can provide but is commonly achieved with additives when using other wheats.

“There were a lot of people there related to the milling business. And that is a competitive market.  So during most of the seminar we let them know about our quality and what they can expect from milling Canadian wheat. We showed them the wheat classes which we hope opened their eyes as to the possibilities.

“We had a chance to share information with those who are not typically involved with the Canadian market,” Juan Carlos says. “If they are not committed to a particular class and are always blending, it’s good they have a chance to find out about the different Canadian wheat classes. We presented the technical information, baking results, the flour results, the milling yields – all the things that they can expect.”

The participants were very co-operative in sharing their experience, how they use certain wheats, why they are importing from certain places, and the amounts, he says.

Following the seminar in Sao Paulo the group visited two major mills in Fortaleza. One mill uses about 30% Canadian wheat in the blend they are milling. “That helps them to overcome quality variations of non-Canadian wheat in its production. They love it. When you take into account we visited one plant and they have others all over Brazil and are grinding more than 5,000 MT per day, 30% is a lot.”

The other mill used Canadian wheat until January and were planning to import more at the end of the year to produce flour for a special type of cake called panettoni which requires dough strength.

It is important for Cigi to meet with customers and potential customers in other countries, Juan Carlos says. “It helps that Cigi has a good name.  And the fact we’re presenting in their country in their language and they can get close to you and share what they’re doing and ask you what you think is important because they know they have another source of information and training.”

More about Cigi’s missions to various countries during the first quarter of 2014 will be featured in the next issue of our e-newsletter, Cigi.ca.  To subscribe please click here.