The Canadian International Grains Institute has expanded its annual Grain Industry Program to include more information on pulse crops as well as flax and canola
The Venezuelan miller was one of 22 international grain buyers from 15 countries who took part in the Canadian International Grains Institute’s 46th annual Grain Industry Program, which wrapped up last week. Salazar said the two-week-long program has answered many of his questions regarding the evolution of the Canadian grain sector, and an understanding of how the Canadian market works with a diverse set of stakeholders, ranging from producers to government agencies.
“I think I am understanding more how the dynamics are going to be going forward,” said Salazar, who works for Cargill Foods Venezuela.
He noted his Latin American homeland is second only to Italy in per capita pasta consumption.
“We have a lot of… overall European influence, so we eat a lot of pasta and we eat a lot of bread,” said Salazar. “But we don’t have the European weather, so that means we have to import a lot of wheat.”
About 60 per cent of the wheat Venezuela imports, or 900,000 tonnes per year, comes from Canada, with most of the rest coming from the U.S.
“We actually love Canadian wheat, so we’d like to substitute that U.S. wheat with Canadian wheat,” he said.
Kim Chang Hee, a junior manager at CJ Cheil Jedang in South Korea, also attended, and was interested in learning more about the applications of Canadian wheat and other grains, particularly for breads and pastas.
“It has very good properties,” said Hee.
Given recent changes to wheat marketing in Canada, and the possibility that genetically modified wheat might one day be grown here, Hee also had questions about what direction Canadian wheat production will move in coming years.
But Hee said the Cigi program has answered his questions, and assured him that Canadian wheat standards will continue to be consistent in the future.
Besides baking and pasta demonstrations, participants also met with producers, the Canadian Grain Commission, processors and other industry players.
The tour ended with a trip to the Port of Vancouver to see the final leg of the journey Canadian wheat takes.
“This program is, in some ways, a thank you to customers who buy Canadian wheat,” said Rick Morgan, Cigi’s manager of business development, adding it also provides training and allows buyers to see an expanded range of uses for Canadian products.
The program has also grown in recent years to include a greater diversity of Canadian commodities.
“In the past the program was always very focused on wheat,” Morgan said. “This year we’ve added some discussions and presentations in regards to pulse crops, and canola and flax, so that the people who are here have a really broad understanding of Canadian crops and their quality and processing characteristics.”
More than 37,000 people representing grain, oilseed, pulse and special crops industries from 115 countries have participated in Cigi programs and seminars since the independent market development institute was founded in 1972.