White Wheat Availability Becomes Focus of Discussions During African Trade Team Visit to OklahomaMon, 26 Jun 2017 15:40:49 CDT
The Oklahoma Wheat Commission again hosted another foreign wheat trade team over the weekend, allowing those on the tour across the Southern Great Plains, an opportunity to meet with local producers and industry leaders here in Oklahoma. This time, the trade team hailed from Nigeria and South Africa, led by Gerald Theus of the US Wheat Associates Cape Town office. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays during their visit, about the African region he oversees and the demand profile of the 36 countries included in that area. You can listen to their entire conversation from this weekend, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below, at the bottom of this story.
According to Theus, Nigeria and South Africa represent the two largest markets for US Wheat in that region. With a population of 180 million and 162 million bushels of US wheat imported on the average, Nigeria is the No. 3 largest export market globally for US wheat. South Africa is smaller in market share, with only 45 million people within its borders and imports only about 108 million bushels.
Theus has been with US Wheat Associates for nearly three decades, and in that time, he says he has observed a lot of change from within the organization and how the US wheat industry competes with its foreign competitors.
“When I first started with US Wheat 26 years ago, our major competitor was Canada, our neighbors to the North,” he said. “Now, our biggest competitor in recent years is Russian wheat, what we call ‘Black Sea’ wheat. They’ve come in and actually taken market share away from us, based strictly on price. They’re much cheaper than American wheat.”
And it’s not just the Russians giving the US wheat industry a run for its money. Turkey, Australia, France, Germany, Argentina – basically all the wheat producing countries have become major players in the global marketplace and the US has had to learn to play defensively, Theus says.
“It’s been quite a hectic job for us now,” he said. “Our competitors are actually taking a page out of our book and basically doing the same things we are doing – offering technical assistance and training programs, tours like these. We didn’t have that years ago, so we’ve had to step up and be ahead of the game.”
In order to keep that competitive edge in the marketplace, though, Theus says there is one simple solution to that.
“White wheat,” he asserted. “We need white wheat.”
Theus explained that several years ago, the US introduced Nigeria to Hard White Wheat – and they loved it. However, following that, farmers stopped planting it and the Nigerians, hungry for more, turned to Australia to supply them. Today, what little HWW that is produced here, is used domestically. But, Theus credited Oklahoma State Wheat Breeder Dr. Brett Carver with having said that perhaps within five years, we should have exportable quantities of HWW available, thanks to some of the varietals he and and the OSU wheat team have coming down the pipeline.
Learn more about this tour and the two African nations represented on it this year, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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