Senior managers from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), as well as state wheat commission representatives and farmers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana travelled to Japan in January to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Japan Flour Millers Association.
Japan has been the biggest buyer of US wheat since 1949, beginning when the Oregon Wheat Growers League first sent a trade delegation to Japan. Over the past five years alone, Japan has purchased an average of 3.1 million tons of US wheat annually.
Due to shared values and deep historical ties, and with both countries dedicated to producing and consuming consistent, high quality food products, the United States is the perfect market for Japanese wheat buyers, according to USW Chairman Mike Miller, of Ritzville, Washington.
The USW helps facilitate wheat trade with Japan by providing up-to-date market information and collaborating with Japanese industry groups to demonstrate the quality and value of US wheat. They represent wheat growers from 17 US states in more than 100 countries around the world.
“It is good to know that our wheat is an essential ingredient in the wonderful wheat foods the Japanese people enjoy,” said Miller.
Overall, the United States exported $67.7 billion worth of goods to Japan in 2017, making Japan the fourth largest US export market. Kansas, the biggest US wheat producer, exported $807 million worth of goods to Japan in 2016, over half of which was food and kindred products. Other important wheat producing states that export largely to Japan include Montana, where Japan comprises 20% of the state’s total export market to Asia, and Washington, which exported $7.1 billion worth of goods to Japan in 2016 – making Japan Washington’s second largest export market.
These states also feature strong cultural ties with Japan. Combined, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Kansas maintain 22 sister city and state relationships with Japan. In addition, Washington and Oregon both feature Japan/America societies.