If the U.S. is the world’s grocery store, Mexico is certainly filling its cart with hard red winter wheat (HRW) grown in Kansas and other Plains states.
According to the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service’s March 2021 data, Mexico purchased nearly 6.39 million bushels, or about 174,000 metric tons, of U.S. HRW during the month, the most of any country. According to data reported by U.S. Wheat Associates, that March purchase brings Mexico’s total year-to-date purchases of all wheat classes for current marketing year delivery to about 3.4 million metric tons — the most of any nation, but lagging its 2019-20 imports.
Export grocery list
Total March exports of U.S HRW reached 19.7 million bushels (537,000 metric tons), according to Kansas Wheat. USW has total year-to-date exports, as of April 9, of 8.55 million metric tons. Even though March exports were 25% more than February HRW exports, according to Kansas Wheat, there’s still a 36% lag from March 2020 HRW exports, prepandemic.
Other March buyers include Nigeria, with 3.43 million bushels (93,400 metric tons); and Japan, with 1.87 million bushels (51,000 metric tons).
USW, in its April 9 report, reported total U.S. HRW stocks of 31.8 million metric tons, and domestic and export use at 20.6 million metric tons. That comes to a stocks-to-use ratio of 54%.
With just two months left in the marketing year, the U.S. has only exported 77% of its projected 985 million bushels (26.8 million metric tons) of exports of all six classes of wheat.
If there’s such a thing as “brand loyalty” in commodity grain purchases, this might just be a prime example. Valuable market development work conducted by USW and the Kansas Wheat Commission, as well as other wheat commissions across the Great Plains, has built a strong relationship between growers and Mexican buyers. USW leverages cost-share grants from USDA’s FAS.
That relationship-building work, combined with the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement), which facilitates trade further, has strengthened a supply chain that connects Kansas elevators and Mexican flour mills.
Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat vice president of research and operations, attributes the loyalty of buyers to the trust they place in the farmers who grow the wheat.
“Our key customers in Mexico know they can rely on Kansas wheat farmers to produce consistent quality year-in and year-out,” Harries says. “Maintaining trust with these top buyers requires continually sharing information on our wheat crop and providing technical support — information and expertise they do not receive from our competitors.”
Kansas Wheat and U.S. Wheat Associates contributed to this article.