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Agricultural News

Gerald Theus of US Wheat Assoc. Spotlights Industry's Strategic Alliance with Sub-Saharan Africa

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:39:43 CDT

Gerald Theus of US Wheat Assoc. Spotlights Industry's Strategic Alliance with Sub-Saharan Africa Several grain industry executives are touring Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas here in the harvest season for wheat growers across the Southern Plains. Included in the group are representatives from South Africa, Nigeria and several other countries - all being led by Gerald Theus, the regional director of operations for Sub-Sharan Africa with the US Wheat Associates. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays had the chance to speak with Theus as the group was touring through and talked with him about the African market he serves. You can listen to that complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.

Theus, whose territory spans 36 different independent nations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa ranging from some of the continents richest to poorest states, says the good thing about all these customers is that they all are in high-demand for wheat. Especially for Hard Red Winter wheat which makes up roughly 80 to 90 percent of the wheat purchases in this region.

“Out of the 36 countries, the fortunate thing for us at USWA, is they all eat bread,” he said, “and they all need to import wheat.”

The process of importing wheat has changed rather drastically in this part of the world, even in the last quarter century, Theus says. Until relatively recently, all grain purchases were done through the government action. Now days, he says the task has been passed on and entrusted to industry executives in the private sector, like those attending the tour. USWA spends a great deal of time and resources now educating and informing these decision-makers through their market development programs to ensure they understand our products and their different characteristics in order to give them the confidence they need to purchase the right product for their specific needs. According to Theus, though, it doesn’t take much convincing to sell these customers on American grown wheat.

“They’re looking for quality and they know US wheat quality is the benchmark,” he said. “So, they come over here to talk to producers and USDA officials and grain inspection officials, but it’s gotten down to a question of price now.”

Back when Theus first started working for the USWA, nearly 30 years ago, he said our only main competitor was the European Union, specifically France. Today, however, he says we are facing increasing market pressure from Russia, the Black Seas region, Ukraine, Australia, Argentina and even our neighbors to the north in Canada.

“We have basically every major wheat exporting country in the world competing with us in our (African) region which as before we only had one,” he said, but emphasized the secret that lends the US its competitive edge. “We’re a supermarket of wheat. We have every type of wheat supply that they may need, whether it be for bread, pasta… You can come to the United States and get every type of wheat class for your specific product that you need.”

In comparison, he points out that our competitors generally only have maybe one type of wheat class and are probably not as reliable a trading partner than the US. Keeping this front of mind for potential buyers has branded the US as the one-stop-shop for all these countries’ wheat needs.



Hear Gerald Theus of USWA speak with Ron Hays about the Sub-Saharan region, tap the bar below
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