Cigi visits Ghana and Sudan to investigate needs of growing market

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Since the spring of 2016 Cigi staff have met with customers on missions in a number of countries in Asia, the Gulf region and Africa. Cigi’s activity in these areas has been highlighted in a three-part series about each region with the following final piece covering Cigi’s visit to Africa.

Last July Cigi technical staff had an opportunity to visit customers in Ghana and Sudan to find out more about this growing market for Canadian wheat.

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(L. to r.) Juan Carlos Arriola, Shona Fraser, Yvonne Supeene, and Esey Assefaw from Cigi with Abubakr M. Elkheir Akasha, Senior Production Manager at Wheata in Sudan.

The Cigi team visited major mills learning about customer use of Canadian wheat, end-use processing requirements and any technical issues where Cigi staff could provide assistance.

“The objective was to further develop our understanding of these markets because they are new for us,” says Esey Assefaw, Head of Asian Products and Pasta Technology, noting it is Cigi’s second visit to the Sub Sahara with the first mission taking place in 2014. The market also includes Nigeria which was visited at that time. Together the three countries, which have gradually increased their use of Canadian wheat over the past 15 years, imported more than 1.5 million tonnes (MT) in 2014-15 including 1.3 MT of CWRS.

“We found that customers like the quality of Canadian wheat and there weren’t technical problems identified,” Esey says. “The majority of companies were very enthusiastic about Canadian wheat and know how to use it for their products. As a technical team it gave us a lot of confidence.”

Juan Carlos Arriola, Head of Milling Technology, who also travelled on the mission agrees that the visits with customers were positive. “We had great meetings with technical staff like lab people, bakers and head millers. We discussed the advantages of using Canadian wheat and how it is versatile in meeting their requirements.”

Juan Carlos says that in many parts of the world Canadian wheat is not used 100%, but in a blend to help improve flour quality. “Customers sometimes combine high-quality CWRS with lower priced wheats. In this region CWRS may be blended at various ratios, depending on the mill, with domestic or competitor wheats such that as from the Black Sea.”

He says that dough produced from CWRS wheat can be more elastic and bakers in this region

Yvonne Supeene, Head of Cigi's Baking Technology, gets hands-on with baladi bread in Sudan.

Yvonne Supeene, Head of Cigi’s Baking Technology, gets hands-on with baladi bread in Sudan.

like that characteristic for a product like baladi which is a popular type of flatbread that requires extensibility in processing.

“The discussions we had were important to understand what customers need in terms of their final product because sometimes they have unique processes,” Juan Carlos says. “CWRS is a wheat that can be adapted to a range of baking methods.”

The mission also provided the Cigi team with an opportunity to find out more about the competitor wheats used by customers and to compare quality performance to Canadian wheat, Juan Carlos says.

Esey says the Canadian wheat market in the region is expected to continue to grow and anticipates further opportunities for Cigi to engage with customers from there in the future.