Nigeria: U.S. Wheat’s Largest Customer


Top flour milling executives from Nigeria visited the United States last week to tell the story of how a partnership between the U.S. government and wheat producers has helped them build the second largest industry in the West African nation. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is sponsoring the trade visit, which includes stops in Washington, DC, Kansas, and Texas.

Nigeria buys more U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat every year than any other country and will likely be the largest U.S. wheat buyer in the world in 2009/10 (June-May). As much as 90 percent of the wheat milled in Nigeria is imported from the United States, including hard red spring (HRS), hard white (HW), durum, and soft red winter (SRW) wheat. Since 2001 when USW opened a technical service office in Lagos, average annual wheat sales to Nigeria have doubled from about 1.5 million metric tons (55 million bushels) to almost 3 million metric tons (110 million bushels), returning billions of dollars back to the U.S. economy.

“Our industry relies on U.S. wheat because it is a very good value and we can source every type of wheat we need all year long,” said Mr. Debo Agbonyin, Executive Director, Corporate Services, for BUA International Flour Mills.

“U.S. wheat has also become a basic ingredient for greater economic opportunity in Nigeria,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “Doing business in Nigeria can be difficult, but their milling industry supports thousands of jobs and is still expanding its capacity. We have supported that growth by helping these millers introduce new products like pasta, instant noodles, and cookies into this growing market.”

Because it receives producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions, USW qualifies for additional funding from the Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development program, and other programs managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. These programs support trade and technical service and allow USW to bring trade teams to the United States to help buyers, technicians, and government officials understand how to get the most value possible from U.S. wheat.

This Nigerian trade team is unique in that the millers will spend two days in Washington, DC, meeting with U.S. officials who have jurisdiction over federal export market development programs. They want to inform those officials that these programs are a valuable investment.

“Whatever we have achieved, the foundation has been laid by U.S. Wheat Associates,” said Mr. Tunde Odunayo, Chairman of Honeywell Flour Mills, Lagos, Nigeria. “We know that USW is funded by farmers and USDA. It is money well-spent.”

From Washington, the Team traveled to Kansas City, MO, to meet with U.S. exporters. Stops in Manhattan, KS, and Dallas, TX, managed by the Kansas Wheat Commission and Texas Wheat Producers Board,  put the team in touch with wheat producers and gave them a chance to get an early look at the 2010/11 hard red winter wheat crop.


Russell Nemetz with the Northern Ag Network interviewing Cyril Attang with Standard Flour Mills, Limited in Lagos, Nigeria in June 2005 

Source: U.S. Wheat Associates

Posted by Russell Nemetz

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