Growing West African markets a focus for new crop seminars

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Cigi’s Yvonne Supeene presents on baking quality of the 2017 Canadian wheat crop at the seminar in Ghana.

Last December new crop seminars were held for customers in the growing West African markets of Nigeria and Ghana by members of the Canadian value chain that included representatives from Cereals Canada, Canadian Grain Commission and Cigi, and a farmer.

Nigeria imported 870,200 tonnes (MT) of Canadian wheat including 821,700 MT of CWRS and 31,500 MT of CWAD in 2016-17, representing the highest amount the country has purchased from Canada over the last five years. Most of the CWRS was No. 2 grade along with a smaller amount of No. 3. Ghana imported 343,400 MT, also mostly No. 2 CWRS as well as No. 3.

Over the last several years Nigeria shifted away from U.S. wheat imports which were once significant. Less expensive Russian and Black Sea wheat is commonly blended with higher quality CWRS to increase the resulting flour protein level and quality for bread production. Ghana also similarly blends wheats and one major milling company exclusively uses CWRS for high quality flour sold to local bakers, says Yvonne Supeene, Head of Cigi Baking Technology. Yvonne presented baking results representing 2017 harvest quality of CWRS and CPSR on the mission.

“This market is price sensitive so will continue to use more economical wheat imports to blend with higher quality Canadian wheat,” adds Ashok Sarkar, Senior Advisor in Cigi Technology, also on the mission. “When the quality of Canadian wheat is higher as for this year, it gives millers an opportunity to further raise the percentage of more economical wheat in their blend, maintaining constant quality while lowering their blending (production) costs.”

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Cigi’s Lisa Nemeth speaks with customers.

Lisa Nemeth, Cigi Director of International Markets, says during the seminar a customer in Nigeria asked about availability of a lower protein, medium strength wheat from Canada as an alternative to what they currently import from the Black Sea as they prefer the consistency of Canadian wheat.

“Even in a good crop year such as this it’s important that we are still talking to customers — answering any questions they have, finding out about their requirements, and discussing what is new in Canadian wheat,” she says, adding it also gives the team an opportunity to find out from customers more about wheat quality in other exporting countries. “Nigeria and Ghana were very open and interested with lots of questions, a keen market for understanding.

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Alberta farmer Greg Porozni discusses Canadian farming practices.

“We are going back to Nigeria in March to follow up with some technical training to help them understand more about the fundamentals of quality as it relates to CWRS and why it’s so important in baking,” Lisa adds. “They are a huge market with much potential.”

The new crop seminars in West Africa followed a Cigi technical mission to the region last August which  generated information for Cigi on the market and end-use requirements though visits to customer milling facilities. Click here to read more.

“The millers in these two countries were very engaged and clearly articulated the value that CWRS has for them as a blending wheat to improve the quality of other wheat that they purchase,” says Cigi CEO JoAnne Buth who was also a member of the team. “Considering the increasing population and income in West Africa, this is an area that has great promise for further sales of Canadian wheat.”