September 30, 2003
Chinese Wheat Millers Visit U.S. Crops
A 12-person delegation of five Chinese flour mills is visiting Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oregon this week to get first-hand knowledge of this year's crop, according to the U.S. Wheat Associates. Before that, the team visited the Chicago Board of Trade.
A U.S. Wheat associates official said the Chinese millers are mainly interested in learning more about hard red spring and hard red winter wheat but emphasized that "we wanted to introduce them more towards hard red spring than they've been exposed to before."
Judge Barth, a marketing specialist for the North Dakota Wheat Commission, said Monday he is hopeful the trip signals China may begin soon to buy more U.S. wheat.
While China is typically the largest wheat-producing country in the world, flour mills have begun importing hard red spring wheat from this region to blend with locally grown wheat. Spring wheat is higher in protein and helps to improve the dough handling and baking properties of the resulting flour.
China's 2002-03 imports from the U.S. dropped to less than half of the six million bushels it purchased the previous year, but that trend may turn around. "Prospects for sales to China this marketing year and in the future look very good because the Chinese are consuming more wheat than they produce," Barth said. "There is a quality niche to be filled."
He also added that he expected the Chinese visitors to be impressed when they arrive in North Dakota Thursday.
"As far as the crop, the quality is excellent. Production is up over last year. The supply looks very good," he said.