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Published June 17, 2014, 03:46 PM

Panama flour millers to visit ND

Managers from three of Panama’s flour mills will visit Fargo, N.D., on June 19 and 20 to learn more about this year’s spring wheat and durum crops and to become more familiar with the U.S. wheat system from farm to mill.

By: Agweek Staff Report,

Managers from three of Panama’s flour mills will visit Fargo, N.D., on June 19 and 20 to learn more about this year’s spring wheat and durum crops and to become more familiar with the U.S. wheat system from farm to mill.

Panama has only four milling companies, all of which are represented by the Panamanian Millers Association, MOLTRIGO, which is responsible for wheat purchasing decisions. The flour millers purchase wheat and arrange freight together in an effort to reduce costs and improve coordination of deliveries.

Panama imports the vast majority, almost 90 percent, of its wheat needs from the U.S. with total annual purchases reaching 4.5 million bushels. Panama imports hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter and durum. The Panama milling industry is an important one for North Dakota producers because hard red spring and durum account for nearly half of their annual wheat purchases.

Francis Leiphon, North Dakota Wheat Commission chairman, says the Panama team’s visit is well timed.

“Right now, we are seeing a significant increase in demand for U.S. hard red spring wheat, with total exports for the 2014 to ’15 crop year (that began June 1) already two-thirds higher than a year ago at this time. Demand from Panama for new-crop supplies has been particularly strong, with nearly 2 million bushels of new crop sales on the books.”

Panama imports smaller quantities of durum as compared with other classes, but is still an important customer with purchases of around 200,000 bushels per year.

While in Fargo, the team will meet with NDWC staff and commissioners to get an update on the 2014 crop situation, prices and logistics and will meet with researchers at North Dakota State University to gain a better understanding of the spring wheat and durum quality and breeding programs. The group will also tour the Northern Crops Institute and a local elevator facility.

“These hands-on opportunities to visit major wheat production regions provide key milling administrators the opportunity to observe and discuss crop conditions and our supply chain,” says Chad Weigand, assistant regional director for the USW Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean Region. “The team’s firsthand observations of the U.S. wheat marketing system will help keep the great relationship between the U.S. wheat industry and Panama’s flour millers strong.” The team will also visit Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash.

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