Some of the best wheat products can be found right here in the heartland. A group of millers from the Philippines recently took part in a tour hosted by the Nebraska Wheat Board, to see this high quality for themselves.
"The Philippines is currently the second largest market for U.S. Wheat in the world," U.S. Wheat Associates representative Joe Sowers said. Because the U.S. has such a large market, it's important to show the millers why it should stay that way. During a tour of the BASF wheat breeding facility near Beaver Crossing, the group learned how different hybrids of wheat are developed for the farmer. "We start out by making a unique genetic cross and combination," BASF Wheat Breeding Regional Manager Sally Clayshulte said. "Then we go through multiple generations of that to select the best variety or best lines for certain areas of the Central Great Plains."
The group that came to the United States was made up of representatives from six food processing and milling companies in the Philippines. During the tour, the group got a chance to see how much effort goes into making sure that U.S. and Nebraska wheat continues to be the best in the world. "Every year we have to earn it, and there's always new competition coming, especially right now in the Black Sea region," Sowers said. "We've seen Russia go from the largest importing country in the world to the largest wheat exporting country in the span of 25 years, adding about 50 million tons to the wheat export channel. It's a huge competition, and we are always fighting for it."
Bien Venido is the plant manager for Morning Star Milling in Manila. He says that U.S. wheat is what his company uses. "We source 100% U.S. wheat," Venido said. "We never use Canadian or other types. We source it directly from the U.S. because we know that the quality is there." Venido says the group learned a great deal on the tour. "It's more of having an understanding of how the farmers breed the wheat, plant it, and all of the research that goes behind it. It gives us wheat we can process for our customers, because they do demand quality."
Beyond learning about the quality of the wheat product in the U.S., the tour group also got a chance to make human connections and build relationships. "Nebraska exports half of our wheat every year, so it's important for us to build those relationships with our international customers," Nebraska Wheat Board Ag Promotions Coordinator Caroline Clements said. "It gives them a chance to come to Nebraska and really see how are farmers growing the wheat, and how the research is developing."
"I hope they come away with a belief that they cannot find this quality of product anywhere else," Sowers said.