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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Wheat Harvest Impresses Israeli Trade Team

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 12:28:08 CDT

Oklahoma Wheat Harvest Impresses Israeli Trade Team
The Oklahoma Wheat Commission has had three trade teams visiting the state this harvest season. The third team, from Israel, is in Oklahoma this week. Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with the team combining wheat in a field near Minco Monday afternoon.

Accompanying the group was Goris van Lit with U.S. Wheat Associates out of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He says the Israelis have been long-time customers of U.S. Wheat.

"The potential is there for almost 50 years, 60 years. They are a very faithful customer of U.S. wheat. And, I would say, until the year 2000 it was almost uniquely it was U.S. wheat they were grinding. Then we got competition coming out of the Black Sea countries. So we have to fight a little bit harder to beat that competition when it's possible. We are in a competitive market, but we still sell quite a good volume of wheat to Israel."

The Israelis use U.S. wheat for a wide variety of breads, van Lit said. They produce a lot of European-style raised breads with the hard red winter wheat from the Southern Plains and they use some soft wheat for Arab-style pita breads.

The principal host for the trade team while it is in Oklahoma is Mike Schulte, the executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.   Schulte said that a number of Oklahoma groups have been instrumental in fostering trade relations between Israel and producers in the Oklahoma. He said that marketing job is one that has to be done on a continuing basis.

"Israel is not the largest buyer of hard red winter wheat. They don't make as many purchases as they used to because of the Russian and Ukraine markets, but we still do have good relationships with them. On average we generally ship about 18 to 25 million bushels a year to the Israeli market. And a lot of that has to do with the cost of freight, proximity, and what the market is doing in other places.

"They do like our quality of U.S. wheat and that is the one thing we have heard about on this trip. And they also like the fact that they know that we are a reliable market that they can always turn to, so they do like doing business with us."

Schulte said the Israeli wheat trade team is very interested in the research and development that is being done on wheat varieties through Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

"They are a very technical group, very savvy on their milling and baking science. Bakeries over there have lots of different breads. When I was over there I toured one bakery that had probably 50 different lines for bread products. They have extensive characteristics of wanting to have high protein values in their wheat and this happens to be a great year that they are seeing Oklahoma because our protein levels have been extremely high where we've toured."

Schulte said they have seen protein levels of 14 and 15 percent and he expects the state average overall will be 12 percent.

The Israeli trade team will visit grain elevators in Houston before traveling to Washington D.C. to wrap up their tour.

You can hear Ron Hays's full interview with Goris van Lit and Mike Schulte by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.



Ron Hays talks with Goris van Lit and Mike Schulte about the Israeli trade team's visit to Oklahoma.
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