Representatives of five key Philippine milling companies visited the Northern Crops Institute on Wednesday, August 13. All five of the team members hold key management positions in their companies, including marketing, business development, and research and development. The trade visit will help them develop a better understanding of the U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat region and the ability of regional producers to provide the quality and supplies they need. According to Manila-based Joe Sowers, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) assistant regional director for South Asia, who is travelling with the team, "U.S. wheat has been a big part of the Filipino milling and baking industry for more than 50 years. Coming to the United States helps these companies understand the work farmers, grain handlers and USDA put in to produce and deliver high-quality wheat and services that can help them grow their businesses." The Philippine economy is one of the fastest growing in Asia and flour consumption is anticipated to increase in the near term. The Philippines was the number one U.S. HRS export market in the 2013 marketing year with purchases of more than 43 million bushels. This was about 13 percent ahead of their five-year average, and placed them ahead of Japan which is typically the top market.