Seven representatives from the top milling and food companies in Nigeria are visiting Nebraska, Kansas and Texas through June 26 to survey the current year's hard red winter and hard white wheat crops.
"These trade team visits connect our Nigerian customers with the farmers that consistently produce the high quality wheat they expect and the grain industry responsible for supplying it," said Gerald Theus, assistant regional director for the U.S. Wheat Associates Sub-Sahara African regional office in Cape Town, South Africa, who will accompany the team. "Participants gain firsthand knowledge of the current year's crop and confidence in the U.S. grain marketing system."
U.S. Wheat is sponsoring this trade team with support from the Nebraska Wheat Board, Kansas Wheat and Texas Wheat. During their visit, the Nigerian team will meet with farmers and industry officials to discuss the supply and quality of the current wheat crop, although the team will likely not see much wheat in Kansas fields due to the early harvest. The team will also discuss wheat research, including the future introduction and hoped-for traits of biotech wheat, in visits with Dr. Forrest Chumley at Heartland Plant Innovations and Kansas Wheat as the team tours the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center construction site.
Team members include representatives from the world's second largest miller, Flour Mills of Nigeria, and other leading Nigerian flour milling companies. Flour Mills of Nigeria is the world's largest importer of HW wheat, shipped in containers from its own export elevator in Corpus Christi, TX. The company also imports SRW, HRW, HRW and Desert Durum.
Nigeria is the only country that has imported all six classes of U.S. wheat. Flour milling is Nigeria's second largest industry - behind oil - and the country buys up to 90 percent of its wheat from the United States. USW's in-country presence through an office is Lagos and a long-term commitment to technical training and assistance have combined to build a top market for U.S. wheat in Nigeria, including the largest overall buyer in 2009/10. Nigeria had purchased 123 million bushels (3.35 million metric tons) of U.S. wheat as of May 31 for the 2011/12 marketing year, ranking them as the third largest wheat buyer for behind Japan and Mexico.
Nigeria has tremendous untapped potential for increased milling capacity and, along with continued purchases of hard red winter, an interest in increasing consumption of other U.S. wheat classes, particularly hard white.
In marketing year 2011, Nigeria imported some 2.62 million metric tons of Hard Red Winter wheat from the U.S. Based on USDA analysis, USW estimated that the loss of this market alone could reduce U.S. farm gate prices by 15 cents per bushel.
USW is the industry's market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to "develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers." The activities of USW are made possible by producer check-off dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and through cost-share funding provided by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit www.uswheat.org or contact your state wheat commission.