New trends in China’s flour market

Western-style foods like hearth breads, hamburgers, pizza, and baguettes are gaining popularity in China.

China has a centuries-old wheat-based food culture, but foreign baking applications are gaining popularity in the market.

Jeff Coey, the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) regional vice president in Hong Kong, states that China is importing more wheat for specific purposes, presenting an opportunity for the U.S., “since our wheats are bred and segregated for specific end uses,” he said.

Chinese customers love information about the world of wheat, including crop progress and industry trends. Flour quality for frozen dough applications is the current hot topic, with frequent requests for technical support, reports Coey.

Headshot of Ting Liu
Ting Liu, Technical Specialist, U.S. Wheat Associates

“There is a steady flow of milling and baking industry information and Chinese customers are keen to stay abreast of all that. When it comes to localizing technical information and explaining its importance, USW Technician Ting Liu has become a great resource for our customers, and they have come to rely on her and on USW. When it comes to working with our stakeholders in both the U.S. and China, it is her people skills that really shine,” Coey said.

“USW’s good technical service can influence our purchase of specific classes of U.S. wheat, such as soft white wheat for making southern-style steamed bun products."
Ms. Xu Dongning
Deputy general managerfor Guangdong Kailan Flour Foods Company

Growing food trends

Frozen and cold dough products, like ready-to-bake cookies, sweet rolls, and frozen pizza, are a growing segment across the Asia Pacific region, driven by the increasing population and rising disposable income. Market reports project a compound annual growth rate of 8.3% for the Asia Pacific frozen dough market from 2023 to 2028.

USDA-FAS Agricultural Trade Office activities allow USW Technical Specialist Ting Liu to promote the functionality of U.S. wheat in the food and baking industries.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) partners with the Sino-American Baking School (SABS) in Guangzhou, China, to showcase the advantages of U.S. wheat classes. Through the USDA’s Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, USW has updated SABS with modern technology, including new blast freezing systems and other commercial equipment upgrades, that promote the use of U.S. wheat. ATP funding enables SABS and USW to maintain influence in China’s baking industry and support future sales.

“USW’s weekly price reports are helpful to understand the market and make purchasing decisions. Secondly, the harvest reports and annual crop quality seminar keep us updated on new crop quality, which affects our purchasing decisions. Thirdly, technical seminars, training courses, and in-plant communications help to improve our staff’s technical knowledge and skills in milling and using U.S. wheat.”

This article was originally published in August 2023 as part of the Washington Grain Commission’s Milling and Baking Expert Profile Series in Wheat Life Magazine . The series features technical experts from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) who are stationed around the world and provide customer service, consulting and education for the companies that import U.S. wheat. USW is the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry.

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