Promoting Canadian wheat in Latin America

Customers in Peru and Chile like the quality of CWRS, and are interested in more CPSR

For several years Latin American customers of Canadian wheat and durum have met with technical staff from the Canadian International Grains Institute to learn about analytical techniques and processes to evaluate wheat and flour quality. Most recently representatives from Cigi’s baking, milling and analytical services areas spent time in Chile and Peru.

While in Chile, Cigi presented a seminar on Canadian wheat for a group of nine mills and visited four mills and a major bakery, representing about 60 per cent of the Chilean market, says Juan Carlos Arriola, head of Cigi Milling Technology. The customers either use Canadian wheat exclusively or blend it with wheat from Chile and other countries such as Argentina or the U.S. In 2014-15 Chile imported 473,000 tonnes from Canada.

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“They basically use Canadian when they require high-quality products and they also blend for lower-quality products using Canadian wheat as a base,” Arriola says, noting that in Latin America they use strong, medium- and low-protein wheat for various baked products.

“For the high-protein range (usually pan breads) they prefer Canadian wheat like CWRS. For a blend they try to use CPSR with another type of wheat.”

While Arriola focused on the millers’ use of Canadian wheat, the other Cigi technical experts worked with baking and laboratory staff. Cigi’s baking expertise was considered important on the visit since much of the Canadian flour milled is used for bread making, says Yulia Borsuk, technical specialist in Cigi Baking Technology.

“It is critical for customers in Latin America to understand how to maximize Canadian flour, optimizing processing parameters which ultimately affect baked end quality,” she says. “We also acquired knowledge on their flour quality requirements, baking industry trends and challenges the Latin American market faces.”

Borsuk says she received good feedback on Canadian flour quality while assisting with other issues related to consistency, adjustments to equipment, and proofing time. In addition, she found it interesting that Chile is fourth in bread consumption in the world and was pleased she had an opportunity to see traditional Chilean breads like halulla and marraqueta.

Peru a significant importer

In Peru Cigi staff met with the Peruvian Millers Association, which represents about 90 per cent of the country’s market, and visited some major mills.

“Last December Peru imported 200,100 tonnes of Canadian wheat, more than any country in the world,” says Arriola. “It’s a huge market.”

As in Chile, Peruvian mills use 100 per cent Canadian wheat and also blend with other wheat. Canadian Western Amber Durum is used for pasta in addition to common wheat. The Cigi group spent an intensive three days finding out about quality requirements and assisting customers with any concerns.

Kristina Pizzi, head of Cigi Analytical Services, says her focus in Peru was on training staff in milling companies about analytical methods and learning about differences in how they test wheat and flour quality. The training aimed to educate millers and laboratory staff on evaluating results properly to eliminate any misinterpretation of quality issues.

“We discussed the testing we do, how they’re testing, and any differences in their methods,” she says. “We talked about standardized methods and why that’s important. That makes a big difference in your results, especially when comparing over time or with other labs.”

Testing procedures used to evaluate flour quality in Cigi’s baking area were also presented in the Peruvian mills.

Pizzi adds that meeting with customers in Peru revealed how much they love to use CPSR for their end products, although they cannot always obtain a consistent supply.

Arriola says the technical visit helps reinforce the message that Canadian wheat has the quality that Latin American customers need and that Canada is a partner in business.

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