Canadian grain customers in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico overall were pleased to hear about good wheat quality this year from the team representing the Canadian value chain, according to Cigi staff participating in the new crop seminars held in Latin America in November. The seminars drew attendance that represented between 80% and 90% of the market share in their respective countries.
“The seminars were well received and everyone was happy to hear such great news,” says Yulia Borsuk, Technical Specialist in Cigi Baking Technology, adding that face-to-face relationship building is crucial for business with customers in Latin America.
“Participants overall were glad to hear from the entire value chain,” says Dean Dias, Cigi Director of Value Chain Relations, also on the mission. “They thought the seminar was complete with a producer, exporter, and representatives from Cereals Canada, Canadian Grain Commission, and Cigi there to present quality data and also the supply and disposition for this year. This helps customers plan for future buying and to know exactly what to expect from Canada.”
He adds that questions were limited at the seminars due to the “excellent” wheat quality, but even in a good year a Canadian presence is important. “The (Latin American) customers are all waiting for the information we bring. The market share present at these seminars alone shows that buyers value them.”
Yulia notes that some customers travelled from other locations to attend the seminars. “In Bogota,Colombia customers flew in from Cali, and in Mexico City some flew from Guanajuato which shows the companies recognize there is value in attending.”
Latin America is the second largest market for Canadian wheat after Asia. According to Canadian Grain Commission data on exports of Canadian grain and flour, in 2016-17 Peru was the fourth largest importer of Canadian wheat and purchased more than one million tonnes (MT) while Colombia imported 996,000 MT; Mexico, 875,000 MT; Ecuador, 395,000 MT; and Chile, 220,000 MT. In addition, for the same period, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia imported Canadian durum totalling about 131,000 MT, 111,000 MT, 40,000 MT, and 12,000 MT respectively. Chile has imported CWAD in previous years.
“All countries where new crop seminars were delivered are very important customers of Canadian wheat,” Yulia says. “Some of them grow wheat themselves (for example, Mexico and Chile), yet they depend on the quality of CWRS and CPSR to produce bread with high quality characteristics.”
Canadian wheat is normally blended with local or other imported wheats to improve overall flour baking performance, she says. However, highly automated industrial bakeries in Latin America typically use Canadian wheat at 100% to ensure consistency and good quality in their end-products.
“Some festive bakery products like panettone bread, which has a very rich formula and long fermentation process, requires very strong bread flour,” Yulia says. “In Peru they produce around two million loaves of panettone with 100% CWRS in preparation for Christmas celebrations.”
During the new crop mission, the group had an opportunity to visit some mills and bakeries. Yulia says this included a milling company in Peru where they saw some traditional Peruvian baked products in an experimental bakery and another company in Colombia where they toured their artisan bakery. In Ecuador they also visited the bakery of a major milling company. “The visits proved to be valuable for supporting customers and acquiring the most recent information on their requirements.
“It is so exciting to see customers who have been to Canada and Cigi and then meet them again in their countries,” Yulia says. “It builds very good relationships and trust which is very important. To help we need to know exactly what they are doing, some technical details, and they can be very confidential. They aren’t afraid to share that with Cigi’s technical staff. I think Cigi’s strength is in those relationships with the companies which have been built over the years.”