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Policy Change May Boost Wheat Exports

A change in Japanese wheat trade policy could double the exports of Pacific Northwest club wheat, the Washington Wheat Commission predicts.

Little known outside of Washington, club wheat is blended with soft white wheat to create Western White, a variety preferred by Japanese flour mills. About 10 percent of Western White is club wheat.

But in a decision announced this week, the Japanese Food Agency said that beginning in April it will require a minimum of 20 percent club in the Western White mix. Japanese millers said that a higher percentage of club wheat would improve the quality of their breads, confectioneries and pasta.

The change is timely for Washington farmers, who harvested a higher-than-average 300,000 acres of club wheat last year and have gotten no premium for the crop.

Japan is the largest market for Western White, buying 37 million bushels annually from various sources at a value of $143 million, the commission said.

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