Issue 37
May 2001

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Prairie Grains is the official publication of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Wheat, Inc. and the Minnesota Barley Growers Assocation.

Copyright Prairie Grains Magazine
May  2001

Mexican Company Seeks to IP U.S. Wheat

By Tracy Sayler

Derek Westall, production manager for Groupo Trimex, a milling group in Mexico, also related his perceptions and experiences with U.S. wheat. Mexico imports about 2 mmt (about 73 million bushels) of U.S. wheat annually, with Groupo Trimex importing about 215,000 metric tons of wheat annually.

Westall says Groupo Trimex doesn’t like to import U.S. wheat past Kansas because the freight gets too expensive.  At the same time, however, Westall says his company buys Canadian wheat—which points to the likelihood of the Canadian Wheat Board offering freight discounts or other pricing advantages to successfully bid wheat business.

Since the privatization of the Mexican wheat industry in 1995, baker demand for stronger flours has increased.  Accordingly says Westall, “we’ve all had to improve our flours by importing higher protein wheats.”  Maximum wheat protein of wheat produced in Mexico is 10-11.5%.

Westall says Groupo Trimex buys winter wheat from about three or four U.S. suppliers, dependent upon price. Consistent quality and uniform kernel size can be a problem in Gulf shipments, and the U.S. should place more focus on providing cleaner wheat out of the Gulf, just as the same emphasis has been established in Pacific Northwest ports, says Westall. Small kernels and dockage can be a problem and Groupo Trimex needs to “spec” for dockage to minimize it.  “We have learned that we have to be very clear on our specifications,” he says.  “We’ve learned to limit (dockage) to a maximum of 3%. If we don’t do that, we get 4.5%.  On a 27,000 ton ship, that is one heck of a lot of dockage which we pay for as wheat and must sell as mill feed.”

Westall says his company is working with Kansas State University on an identity-preserved wheat project. His company also “IPs” wheat with producers in northern Mexico. “It works well,” he says, “the only problem is getting the wheat we need in enough quantities.”

Tighter grain quality standards, through a rewrite of specifications under the USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service, would improve the U.S. wheat export trade without affecting domestic wheat trade in the U.S., Westall advises. “Otherwise, you have good wheat, and good flours.  But consistency is the key word,” he says.