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U.S. Wheat hires new technician for South America

A new technician position in South America will help increase market demand for all U.S. wheat classes. Andres Saturno joined the team July 9.
Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Published on July 18, 2018 10:50AM

Andres Saturno, the new U.S. Wheat Associates technical specialist in South America.

U.S. Wheat Associates

Andres Saturno, the new U.S. Wheat Associates technical specialist in South America.


U.S. Wheat Associates has hired Andres Saturno as a technical specialist to work with millers, bakers and other customers across South America.

He began July 9 in U.S. Wheat’s office in Santiago, Chile.

U.S. Wheat will pay his salary with its foreign market development budget for South America. Funding from wheat farmers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington will cover his travel and other work expenses.

“This position definitely will help promote all classes of U.S. wheat in South America,” said Steve Mercer, a spokesman for U.S. Wheat. “It’s needed very much.”

Many countries in South America have seen “dramatic” increases in disposable income and population, changing the way consumers buy bread and other wheat products, Mercer said. More customers now buy at supermarkets and big box stores instead of mom-and-pop stores, boosting sales of breads and frozen doughs.

Hard red winter wheat, dark northern spring wheat, soft wheat and soft red winter wheat are used in the growing bread, cookie, cracker and confection markets.

“It’s a very rich market, one that we feel providing more direct and consistent technical support for millers and bakers in those areas will definitely help position U.S. wheat as an important ingredient in a lot of different products.”

When millers and bakers are trained to use U.S. wheat classes, demand increases, Mercer said.

The U.S. hopes to grow its South America market share, which has averaged 25 percent over the last decade. The U.S. sends 2 million to 3 million metric tons of wheat to South America per year, primarily hard red winter, soft red winter, soft white, dark northern spring and durum wheat.

Saturno is already highly regarded in the industry, said Ritzville, Wash., wheat farmer Mike Miller, past chairman of U.S. Wheat. Saturno’s father previously did some work for U.S. Wheat and the Washington Grain Commission.

“The pedigree is very well-respected down there,” said Miller, who is also a grain commissioner. “He’s going to be very busy. We’re really excited.”

Darren Padget, U.S. Wheat secretary-treasurer and a Grass Valley, Ore., farmer, said the position was a year in the making. Northwest farmers asked U.S. Wheat staff what they considered their biggest need during a conference in Colorado, he recalled.

“The three states are always looking for something to do together,” Padget said. “It’s exciting — it’s something that’s needed in a region that’s growing and will continue to grow.”

South Asia and South America are two of the largest growing markets for wheat, he said.

Blaine Jacobson, executive director of the Idaho Wheat Commission, cited increasing interest in Pacific Northwest-grown soft white wheat in Latin America. Some mills have discovered that blending soft white wheat with their hard red winter wheat results in a better product, he said.

Increased knowledge of the different functions of the various wheat classes has also boosted interest, Jacobson said.

“In the past, wheat was wheat,” he said. “But now there are more discriminating uses.”

The U.S. Wheat position will help the mills that can’t afford in-house technicians, Jacobson said.



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