Source: Kansas State University

In an effort to generate further interest in Kansas and U.S. wheat, Kansas State University's International Grains Program (IGP) Associate Director Mark Fowler and Program Specialist Carlos Campabadal travel the globe attending conferences and promoting the attributes of American wheat.

"Our purpose in attending these meetings is to generate a preference for Kansas wheat when we talk with buyers regarding current crop quality and availability," Fowler said.

Campabadal agrees and adds, "We are here to help international wheat buyers learn about Kansas wheat."

Fowler and Campabadal worked together and independently in Latin and South America in October and November. Both attended the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) Latin American Millers conference in Cartagena, Columbia. Fowler also attended the Association of Brazilian Industry of Wheat (ABITRIGO) meetings in Gamado, Brazil, and conducted a seminar at Senai, which is the Center for Industrial Training of Milling and Baking Operators held in Fortaleza, Brazil. Most recently Fowler participated in the Middle East/Africa IAOM Technical Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

"At these conferences, we work to demonstrate the consistency of both quantity and quality in a global market that has seen increased volatility in prices due to drastic changes in world supply," Fowler said. He cites the 2010 drought in Russia as one of the key disruptions to the global market.

Traveling to these meetings allows IGP faculty to interact with key customers all along the supply chain. For example, Fowler said, "At ABITRIGO, we interacted with an expanded audience starting with the farmer all the way through the baking and retail professionals." He added that at some of the other conferences, Fowler spent time talking with mill owners, general mill managers, managing directors and senior milling executives.

Fowler and Campabadal also gained knowledge in attending these conferences that will carry over to their IGP short course trainings.

"In Latin America, we discussed course partnerships and on-line distance education opportunities. We are working to create a custom workshop for the Mexican National Flour Milling Board that will be conducted at IGP," Campabadal said. By bringing wheat customers to IGP from Mexico, Campabadal believes it will help reinforce the preference for U.S. wheat. He stresses this is a critical market because Mexico is the top buyer of U.S. wheat in Latin America.

This type of travel is sponsored by K-State as well as through funding dollars given to IGP by Kansas wheat producers. Fowler is grateful for the financial support that allows these types of trips and interactions with the international wheat customers.

He said, "For our stakeholders, we maintain an awareness of the U.S. crop situation in the international market. This is critical as informed buyers are more loyal customers of U.S. wheat."

For more information about IGP and its programs, please visit the Web site at: www.grains.k-state.edu/igp.