Western wheat producers are celebrating what could be a major new export deal between the U.S. and Taiwan.
A letter of intent signed Sept. 10 in Washington, D.C., by the Taiwan Flour Mills Association says the Asian nation will buy 62.5 million bushels of U.S. wheat in 2014-15.
That's an estimated $484.5 million sale, if it is completed, says U.S. Wheat Associates which helped broker the deal.
The signing ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. kicked off Taiwan's Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to the U.S. to buy farm products for that nation. The mission visited Montana, Idaho and Oregon before ending its tour in mid-September.
"Western Wheat Associates, one of the legacy organizations of USW, opened the first overseas marketing office in Taipei in 1966," recalls U.S. Wheat's President, Alan Tracy. "Since that time, U.S. wheat farmers and Taiwan flour millers have a long history of mutually beneficial trade relations."
Tracy and Wei-Chang Chang, manager of Taiwan's Thai Ho Milling Co., and executive director of TFMA, co-signed the letter of intent.
Taiwan is now the 6th biggest market for U.S. wheat, importing 520 million bushels since 1998, worth about $3.27 billion, estimates Tracy. Significant hard red spring imports reflect a need for strong gluten flour in breads, rolls and frozen dough products as well as for blending with hard red winter to make traditional Chinese flour foods and noodles, he says.
The delegation from Taiwan was not the only Asian group to visit western wheat farms this summer. A Japanese team also visited farms in Oregon and Washington in late August. Since Japan buys 10% of this nation's wheat exports each year, the visits were well supported by state wheat commissions to enhance relations with this important buyer, says USW Japan Country Director Wataru Utsunomiya.