S. Korea resumes purchases of U.S. soft white wheat
South Korea officials have announced that imports of U.S. wheat will soon return to normal levels, and Japanese officials say they could resume buying soft white wheat as soon as August.
U.S. Wheat Associates communications specialist Julia Debes said the resumption of imports by South Korea is encouraging. She did not have specific dates or volumes of wheat.
South Korea ranked sixth in overall purchases of U.S. wheat in 2012, importing 1.4 million metric tons last year and a five-year average of 1.5 million metric tons, according to U.S. Wheat Associates.
There's been no official announcement yet of sales to South Korea, Debes said, but U.S. Wheat hopes to see some soon.
The two nations had stopped imports of U.S. soft white wheat after genetically modified wheat was discovered in a single 125-acre field in northeastern Oregon.
Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has also announced that Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare developed a detection method for the glyphosate-resistant wheat developed by Monsanto, Debes said.
Japan tested 16 samples of Western white wheat in their stocks and 58 other U.S. samples of wheat received between October 2012 and May 2013 sold by MAFF to Japanese millers, representing 1.2 million metric tons of U.S. wheat.
All tests were negative for the GM trait, Debes said.
Japan is the largest importer of U.S. wheat, purchasing 3.65 million metric tons last year and averaging 3.55 million metric tons in the last five years.
MAFF is expected to begin new tenders for U.S. wheat. U.S. Wheat continues to work with importers.
"Nothing is more important to us than the trust our U.S. wheat producers have earned with our customers through providing a reliable supply of high-quality wheat for the world's buyers," Debes said. "We have been able to consistently provide wheat that meets all of the world's strict quality standards, especially those in Japan and South Korea."
Debes said the industry is awaiting results of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service investigation into the GM wheat finding.
"We appreciate everyone working so hard on this issue and look forward to it being fully resolved," Debes said.