South Asia Team Learns More about Managing Supply Chain Challenges at NCI

Fargo, N.D., USA -- A team of six quality control and purchasing personnel from mills in Indonesia and the Philippines attended the South Asia Contracting for Wheat Value Workshop at Northern Crops Institute (NCI), Fargo, N.D., from September 10-12. The workshop concluded September 14 with sessions at the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) office, Portland, OR.

The workshop was designed to teach the team how to better manage their supply chain challenges and how to write contracts that accurately specify the wheat they want to purchase.

“In South Asia, our most important markets are the Philippines and Indonesia,” says Steve Wirsching, director of the U.S. Wheat Associates West Coast office.  “The Philippines has long been a very important market for U.S. hard red spring wheat (HRS) and U.S. wheat in general, buying about 2 million metric tons each year, as compared to Indonesia, which is an up-and-coming market that purchased 830 thousand metric tons last year.  Indonesia is not a new market for us, but we are seeing increased spring wheat sales driven by economic growth and wheat consumption.”  

“At this workshop, we brought together the quality control personnel and the purchasing departments from four mills. Typically, the quality control department wants the highest quality, and often times, the most expensive wheat; whereas the purchasing group and the accountants want the cheapest wheat.  We at USW are promoting the idea that they need to work together as a team to figure out these problems. Buying the cheapest wheat doesn’t give you the best value, while buying the best quality wheat doesn’t necessarily give you the best value either.  We teach them about how quality is measured and why it is important to end-use performance,” continues Wirsching.

Participants learned about wheat quality testing and procurement through lectures and end product evaluation.  Workshop topics included U.S. wheat market overview; world and U.S. wheat supply and demand overview; understanding analytical tests for flour and dough quality; functionality test demonstrations; inland logistics;  end product evaluations and relationships to physical, chemical, and functional lab tests; wheat class differences and similarities between U.S. and competitors; developing a wheat value matrix; and purchase quality specifications.

The group also toured Jay Nord’s farm near Wolverton, Minn.  They were hosted by Manager Curt Bjertness as they toured the Wolverton C-W Valley Co-op Elevator.

NCI Director Mark Weber comments, “The Northern Crops Institute has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with our friends in the Philippines and Indonesia.  This past week’s workshop was another example of the outstanding cooperation in market development efforts that exist with companies in this region of the world.  As part of this workshop, we did side-by-side baking demonstrations, comparing flours from other parts of the world to the Hard Red Spring Wheat (HRS) grown in our region of the U.S.  Once again our northern-grown HRS showed excellent quality and results.

The workshop was coordinated by John Crabtree, NCI Assistant Director. 

Workshop speakers included: Shawn Campbell, USW Assistant Director, Portland office; Rachel Carlson, NCI Food Technologist; Roy Chung, USW Baking Consultant, Singapore; Natsuki Fujiwara, NCI Food Technologist; Lock Yang Phua, USW Baking Specialist, Singapore; John Oades, Consultant, Portland office; Erica Olson, North Dakota Wheat Commission; Senay Simsek, Ph.D., NDSU Department of Plant Sciences;  Joseph Sowers, USW Assistant Regional Director, Singapore; Michael Spier, USW Regional Vice President, Singapore; Tom Steele, Federal Grain Inspection Service, Portland; William Wilson, Ph.D., NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics; and Steve Wirsching, USW Director, Portland office.