Production of hard white wheat in Canada is controlled through identity preserved (IP) contracts, mainly to ensure there isn’t way more grown than can be sold. The Canadian Wheat Board and grain companies such as Richardson Pioneer, Paterson Grain and their agents handle the contracts.
While demand (and contracts) for hard white wheat isn’t expected to change much in 2010 over 2009, it doesn’t hurt to check early to see if contracts are available for new growers. Some limited premiums are available.
Marketing of hard white wheat continues on two fronts for 2010. The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) is marketing the newer varieties on the international market to see how well they are suited or accepted in the noodle and steamed bread market. Processors are developing the North American bread and baking products market.
“In the North American market we are seeing fairly consistent demand for hard white wheat,” says Bruce Brunett, CWB director of weather and market analysis. “More companies are interested in developing products from the grain, essentially getting the health benefits of a whole wheat product without the darker appearance, and also because there is taste difference. So that market has been consistent.”
Internationally, it is more of a question mark as the board awaits feedback on the performance and acceptance of the newer hard white wheat, Snowstar, in production of noodles and other specialty foods, particularly in the southeast Asian market.
“We are competing in the market with Australia prime hard white wheat,” says Brunett. “They have set the bar. With the new Snowstar variety, in particular, it is wait-and-see what customer acceptance is in the Asian market. This coming year will be an important year as we measure the feedback.”
Until the market moves, it means production of hard white wheat will be relatively stable around the 200,000-acre mark this coming year, say grain companies who handle production contracts for the grain.
Peter Entz, director of seed and traits at Richardson Pioneer in Winnipeg, says he doesn’t expect any increase in the 80,000 acres of mostly AC Snowstar they contracted in 2009. For 2010 they will initially offer contracts to producers who grew the crop in 2009. The company offered a $15 per tonne price premium for 2009 crop and the premium amount for 2010 has not yet been determined.
“We are clearly in a market development stage and we don’t want to be in a position of oversupply and then not be able to move it,” says Entz. Their focus has been supplying grain to the CWB for international market testing.
Paterson Grain, also based in Winnipeg, has taken a different approach with hard white wheat, explains company spokesman George James. Since the Asian noodle market hasn’t materialized as quickly as first expected, Paterson is contracting production of hard white wheat to supply whole wheat flour to the North American bakery industry.
With a program requiring “modest tonnage,” they contract several thousand acres of hard white wheat within about a 100-mile radius of the NutraSun Foods flour mill at Regina. NutraSun is a subsidiary of Paterson Global Foods. Flour from the NutraSun mill, which is equipped to handle both conventional and organic grains, is sold to major bakeries in Canada and the U. S. The company also has a line of white whole wheat flour that it retails across Canada.
Along with the CWB $3 per tonne value-added direct delivery incentive program (VIP), the company also offers a milling premium.
“Our program is of reasonable size, and we have some very committed growers,” says James. “Much of the success is due to good varieties, which are very adaptable to growing conditions. There is certainly no penalty from growing these top performing varieties.”
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]