U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Regional Vice President Matt Wemar, who directs USW promotion programs in the China and North Asia, says China’s wheat imports could increase from about 31 million bushels in 2009 to 55 million bushels in 2011.

China’s dynamic market is impacting U.S. wheat supply and demand, reported speakers at the USW board of directors meeting recently in Minneapolis, MN. Mike Krueger, president of The Money Farm, Fargo, ND, and Weimar, USW vice president in Hong Kong, examined how the changing demand for food in China can move U.S. prices, in separate presentations.

Although China is the largest producer of wheat in the world, it imports some wheat each year. “Chinese flour millers need imported, high-quality wheat to blend their domestic, medium-protein wheat up or down to produce flour products that meet increasing demand for more premium products,” Weimar says. “Their imported wheat reserves are low, so the market is calling for more imported wheat from classes like hard red spring, soft white and maybe some hard red winter.”

“To position U.S. wheat as the right choice to meet that need, we are focused on educating large millers about the ability to certify the quality and characteristics they need from the U.S. wheat supply chain,” Weimar says, discussing the on-going USW effort to train Chinese millers and bakers to produce flours and premium products that favor a preference for U.S. wheat.

Krueger, who advises farmers on crop marketing, says Chinese demand for corn is helping increase U.S. corn prices. That also has an impact on U.S. wheat prices. “Some analysts believe China could import three or more metric tons of U.S. corn this marketing year,” he says. “That is not a huge export market for corn, but meat consumption keeps growing and China really doesn’t have an alternative to corn as a course feed grain. On top of the lower U.S. production forecast and the existing ethanol demand, Chinese demand is helping to hold up U.S. wheat prices.”