In June, Cigi hosted its first-ever Philippines Technical Exchange program. Although Filipino participants have been a part of other Cigi programs in the past this was the first technical exchange focused specifically on that market.
Cigi sees the Philippines as a potential growth market. Yvonne Supeene, Cigi’s Head of Baking Technology, said that the Philippine market imported more CWRS in the past but their imports slowed down several years ago when they saw a decline in gluten strength.
The recent technical exchange program aimed to show that these concerns had been addressed and that Canada can and will deliver the high-quality product the Philippines market needs for bread and noodle processing.
The participants represented five large mills that supply flour to a wide range of customers, including bakeries, contributing to the production of millions of loaves of bread a day.
According to Yvonne, a few of the mills are buying small amounts of CWRS and all are open to the idea of purchasing more Canadian wheat.
Almost immediately the participants’ gluten strength concerns were addressed. On the first day of the program Canadian Grain Commission Commissioner Murdoch MacKay explained in a presentation that Canada was aware of the issue and has gone great lengths to address it, describing in detail the wheat class modernization initiative.
Modernizing the Canadian wheat class system will remove lower-gluten strength varieties from CWRS and put them in a new wheat class: Canada Northern Hard Red (CNHR). This change in classification will benefit the entire value chain, from farmers who grow wheat to international buyers who can be assured they get exactly what they want out of their wheat purchases.
The group went on to spend time in Cigi’s technical facilities, learning about the benefits of Canadian wheat during sessions in analytical services, the pilot mill, noodle lab, and pilot bakery.
The group of millers even spent an entire day in the pilot bakery working with Cigi’s baking technology staff, where they learned firsthand about the functionality bakers look for in their flour. They used 100% CWRS to make pan bread, which is what most wheat is used for in the Philippines, as well as traditional Filipino pandesal or bread rolls.
Yvonne said that showing the participants the benefits that end product processors get while using CWRS is extremely useful. “They get exposure to what’s important to their customers,” she said.
Participants also visited Riddell Seed Farm in Warren, Manitoba, the Grain Storage Research facility at the University of Manitoba, and a terminal elevator in Vancouver, all of which contributed to a better understanding about how Canadian wheat quality is ensured and maintained, from the farmer who grows it to the ships that transport it to customers overseas.
Darwin Tatel who is a head miller in the Philippines said that his mill used to buy CWRS, but stopped in recent years. Like several of the participants, he said that because of his experience with Cigi, he would talk to his company about starting to purchase Canadian wheat again.
“We understand better now how the system of Canadian wheat is being handled,” Darwin said at the end of the week-long program.
Yvonne said she is very happy with the results of the program: the participants assured her they were pleased with the performance of CWRS in the Filipino products they produced.
“Their confidence is back,” she said. “They were so impressed by the whole program, which makes me feel we are doing our jobs, working hard and doing right by the farmers.”
Meet the Wheat Market: The Philippines
The Philippines has a population of 100,998,000 and they have imported 104.9 thousand tonnes of Canadian wheat this year already, about a third of what they imported in total last year.
Read more about this program in the June 23, 2016 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator.
Listen here to a radio interview with Yvonne Supeene and Darwin Tatel which aired on June 17, 2016, courtesy of Golden West.
Hannah Gehman is a Creative Communications student at Red River College in Winnipeg, working at Cigi for the summer. Watch for more articles from Hannah about Cigi’s programs over the next several weeks.