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U.S. Wheat Quality Praised

by Sean Ellis
Capital Press, October 6, 2011

'Price is not the concern at all,' Taiwan miller says

BOISE -- Taiwanese officials told Idaho grain growers Sept. 30 that the quality of this country's wheat is the main reason they will purchase 62.5 million bushels from U.S. farmers over the next two years.

The friendships that Taiwanese millers have developed with U.S. farmers are important but they are not the main reason the country has publicly committed to purchasing an estimated $484.5 million worth of wheat from U.S. growers, said I-Tsung Chen, executive director of the Taiwan Flour Mills Association.

Price is not the top issue either, he added, acknowledging that the TFMA, which imports wheat on behalf of all 26 Taiwan's flour mills, could purchase wheat cheaper from other countries.

"Price is not the concern at all," he said during a press conference where Taiwanese and U.S. officials signed a letter of intent for that country to purchase 1.7 metric tons of U.S. wheat in 2012 and 2013. "At the end of the day, it is because of the good quality of your product."

Daniel Liao, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle, said Taiwanese consumers are among the pickiest in the world when it comes to flour quality.

"In order to have good, quality flour, we have to have quality wheat," he said. "That's why we buy from here."

He noted that Taiwan ranks second in the world, behind Canada, in per capita consumption of U.S. agricultural products and said it was possible his country could end up purchasing more than 62.5 million bushels.

Idaho Wheat Commission Vice Chairman Bill Flory thanked the Taiwanese millers on behalf of the state's 5,000 wheat growers and assured them the state would meet its part of the deal by continuing to provide the highest quality wheat.

"We are committed long term to producing a quality and competitive product and will make sure we conduct the research that is necessary to ensure we continue to do that," he said. "Our quality of wheat will meet or exceed (your) standards."

Liao said it's difficult to say with accuracy how much wheat Taiwan purchases from Idaho growers because a lot of it is mixed by the time it reaches the port at Portland, but he estimated the total to be about 40 percent.

That would make the deal worth about $200 million to Idaho growers and Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who expressed astonishment at the total value, hailed it as an important step in helping improve the rest of Idaho's economy.

"The places where Idaho's economy is doing well right now are in agriculture and trade and both of those are represented right here today," he said.

Sean Ellis
U.S. Wheat Quality Praised
Capital Press, October 6, 2011

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