Latin Americans ask for more Prairie Spring wheat supply

‘We trust Canadian wheat quality,’ says a Colombian grain miller anxious about CPS wheat supply

“Help us out with the CPSR. Don’t take it away from us.”

That plea, uttered humorously by Colombian miller Carlos Alberto Patino at the end of an interview, sums up both a current market concern with important Latin American millers about a Canadian crop class and the interesting reality of a type of wheat that gets little press in Canada.

“We don’t know if there will be enough availability,” said Peruvian miller Roberto Carlos Torrejon about Canada Prairie Spring Red wheat, which both his and Patino’s companies use in a number of products.

The two men were part of a group of Latin American grain industry representatives attending a program at the Canadian International Grains Institute in mid-September. The program was designed to give foreign buyers of Canadian grain a better sense of how Canada’s system works and to establish better contacts between buyers and sellers.

Latin America is an important market for Canada. Peru buys slightly more than one million tonnes of Canadian wheat a year, while Colombia is just shy of one million tonnes.

Canadian wheat is a go-to commodity for Patino and Torrejon, which they have built their products around.

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Peruvian miller Roberto Torrejon and Colombian miller Carlos Pation say Canada Prairie Spring Red is a type of wheat valued by their countries’ milling industries. | Ed White photo

They use Canada Western Red Spring wheat as the basis for their bread flours. Torrejon said they keep the very best CWRS they have for the panettone, a bread-like festival cake, for which his company is best known.

However, both companies use CPSR extensively, both in blends and in specialized products such as pasta.

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“We use that a lot for our dry goods, for pasta,” said Torrejon.

“It’s an economical pasta that we are now also exporting.”

His company’s pasta is exported to Asia and the United States.

Patino has had the same experience. “We have had really great results making semolina with CPS,” he said. “It’s not the highest quality, but it’s a regular quality that our market will allow.”

Both said their companies would like to buy more CPSR from Canada. Patino’s company now buys 85 to 95 percent of its wheat requirements from Canada, while Torrejon’s buys 60 percent from Canada.

Argentina and the U.S. are the sources for the other wheat that Torrejon’s company buys.

“We’re hoping that some work could be done to improve the availability and the quantity of the wheat available to us,” said Patino.

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“We’d like to be able to buy more.”

Both said they were worried by recent Japanese interest in buying Canadian CPSR.

“We don’t know if there will be enough availability,” said Torrejon.

Patino concurred.

“I am also concerned about the availability of CPS red for our market.”

In general, Latin American millers are satisfied with Canadian wheat quality, they said.

“We are very happy with Canadian wheat. We trust Canadian wheat quality,” said Patino.

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