Japan taking slightly lower-protein Canadian wheat

Japan, a routine buyer of high-protein Canadian wheat, appears to have relaxed its protein requirements slightly in recent weeks in order to allow continued shipments of Canadian wheat.

In late January, Canada missed out on Japan’s routine weekly tender due to a lack of available high protein wheat supplies, as adverse weather conditions during the past growing season left Canada with less high protein wheat than normal.

At the time the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) said efforts were underway to familiarize Japanese customers with Canada’s high-quality wheat that had slightly lower protein levels than normal.

In subsequent weeks, Japan has once again included wheat from Canada in its weekly tenders, according to Japanese news reports. News out of Japan on Thursday showed Japan bought 42,869 tonnes of western red spring wheat from Canada in its latest weekly tender.

Unnamed Japanese officials in news reports have said Canadian spring wheat now needs to meet a minimum protein requirement of 13.0 per cent instead of the previous 13.3.

The CWB will not discuss the specifics of individual sales, but one sign of the relaxed protein requirements is the weekly West Coast price released by CWB.

Typically, the CWB issues an in-store price for 13.5 per cent protein Canadian Western Red Spring wheat at the West Coast each Wednesday. That price is widely seen as an indication of the business to Japan, and for the past two weeks the quoted West Coast price has been for slightly lower 13.0 per cent protein wheat instead of the normal 13.5.

CWB spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry said via email that the details of the discussions and negotiations with the Japanese buyers “are confidential and complex and, to respect the wishes of the buyer, we will not be commenting about them.

“We are working hard to provide the best wheat possible for our important customers in Japan and deliver it in a timely fashion,” Fitzhenry said, adding that “we hope and trust that these efforts will allow us to continue to fill Japan’s future needs.”

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