Largest export markets for Canadian wheat part of Asia new crop mission

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Manitoba farmer Drew Baker (right) who presented at the new crop seminars in Asia, engages with customers in Tokyo.

Manitoba farmer Drew Baker (right), who presented at the new crop seminars in Asia, engages with customers in Tokyo.

New crop mission team members delivered good news about CWRS quality last November to Asian customers in Japan, China, Korea and Singapore. This was particularly welcomed by a quality-conscious country such as Japan that has imported a five-year average of 1.51 million tonnes (MT) of Canadian wheat per year, mostly No. 1 grade CWRS. In 2016-17, Japan imported 1.44 million MT and the four countries together totalled about 2 million MT.

Since nearly 84% of CWRS was graded as No.1 this year, quality data presented at the seminars did not focus on the lower grades, says Elaine Sopiwnyk, Cigi Director of Grain Quality. Elaine participated on the mission along with others representing Cigi, Canadian Grain Commission, and Cereals Canada, as well as an exporter and producer. Click here for ‘Manitoba Farmer Reflects on the 2017 New Crop Missions’ by Drew Baker.  

Customers in Singapore asking questions at the seminar.

Customers in Singapore asking questions at the seminar.

The protein content of CWRS was lower overall this crop year so millers in countries with a quota system for higher protein such as Japan were concerned about meeting their requirements, she says. However, customers were assured they would receive wheat with the desired protein levels. “The Canadian exporter mentioned that they would ensure that the needs of a particular market for protein would be met by sourcing wheat from higher protein locations.”

The countries visited in Asia were the same as last year, Elaine says, adding that it is important to re-evaluate the locations each year using criteria such as Canadian export figures and the potential return on investment. There are multiple factors affecting purchasing decisions and these may differ between countries in a region.

During the mission the team was involved in a number of company visits and one-on-one meetings, particularly in Japan, which allowed for an opportunity to find out more about customer operations and requirements.

Large participant turnout at the seminar in Beijing.

Large participant turnout at the seminar in Beijing.

“The missions are a good way for us to meet with customers, engage in conversation with them, and to find out what has changed since the last time we met with them,” Elaine says. “In Asian countries building relationships is important. Cigi staff are fortunate to have many opportunities to network with customers, whether we are on missions, customers come to Cigi, or they email us with technical concerns throughout the year. But people like producers travelling on the missions get a rare opportunity to find out firsthand what customers need from Canada.”

Indonesia

This year a team from Canada also visited Indonesia on a mission that included seminars in West Africa (see separate story) and United Arab Emirates.

“Indonesia was the largest export market for Canadian wheat (not including durum) in 2016-17, surpassing Japan,” says Lisa Nemeth, Cigi Director of International Markets, who was on the mission. Indonesia imported nearly 1.5 million MT of Canadian wheat. Bogasari, the largest milling company in Indonesia, imported about 50% of the total amount and has been key in establishing CWRS as a preferred wheat for bread production in the country.

The new crop team at Bogasari, the largest milling company in Indonesia and significant customer of CWRS.

The new crop team at Bogasari, the largest milling company in Indonesia and significant customer of CWRS.

“Indonesia has been a really good success story for Canada,” she says, noting that participants were engaged at the new crop seminars and asked a range of questions. “We presented data on No. 1 CWRS that demonstrated good quality so they didn’t have many questions on the data. This gave the audience an opportunity to ask other questions of the presenters such as how the Canadian system supports quality.  This was an important message to convey and we were glad to have the chance to speak to them about it from the perspective of the entire value chain.”

Yvonne Supeene, Head of Cigi Baking Technology, who also participated on the mission adds, “Indonesia is a very important market for us. Mills have increased in number from one single mill with a monopoly years ago to about 35 mills today. It is growing rapidly with a lot of competition which also tends to increase the demand for quality which Canadian wheat can provide.”