Wheat importers from around the world hope that Canada’s move to an open wheat market will not hurt this country’s reputation for providing consistent quality.
Foreign wheat industry officials attending the Canadian International Grains Institute’s International Grain Industry program this week are aware of the huge changes occurring in the Canadian grain system.
It worried them but also offered hopes for cheaper prices for Canadian grain.
“What we hope is that we will have better prices to negotiate,” said Marcio Cunha de Paiva of Brazil. “But our (main) concern is the quality.”
Peter Park of South Korea agreed.
“From a buyer’s perspective, there will be some merits and some (disadvantages). What is good is that there will be more competition. We can choose to buy from which company. The competition makes the prices lower, theoretically.”
All three laughed at Park’s use of the term “theoretically.” Noor Hafiza Abdul of Malaysia said her great worry was that prices might look better but that quality would drop. She said her company is “having a problem” with Australian wheat shipments since the Australian Wheat Board lost its monopoly.
“The quality is totally different from the specifications. It has become worse,” said Abdul.
For example, instead of uniform Australian wheat shipments, a 400 tonne shipment in 20 containers might now contain a variety of protein levels.
If the contract specifies 11 percent protein, “they will give us 10 and 12 (and think that) we get 11. It’s very difficult to do the blending. I wonder how the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canadian Grain Commission, will sustain this quality now. This is a very big question for us.”
Park said he hoped the Canadian grain industry and government officials can successfully revamp the grain system without losing the consistent quality his millers rely upon.
“I hope we can adapt to the issues and changes rapidly.”