The European flour millers meet the Kazakh Authorities in Astana

In September 2011, a delegation of the European Flour Millers went to Astana to explore the Kazakh Spring wheat supply chain. Discussions took place with key local stakeholders (wheat producers, millers and traders), officials from the local EU Delegation as well as officials from the Agriculture and Kazakh Foreign Affairs' Ministries.

The Kazakh Spring Wheat supply chain

Wheat is by far the largest crop produced in Kazakhstan, accounting for 78% of grain and oilseeds planted area and Kazakh wheat exports are used to account for million tonnes.

Kazakhstan has great potential as a wheat trade partner for the industry - Kazakh wheat being in general considered as of very good quality for flour millers. The country is also landlocked and, as such, has major logistical and marketing problems when it comes to selling grain onto the world market. This was deeply discussed with local authorities.

Towards sustainable supply from Kazakhstan

Today, reduced global supplies of high-protein milling wheat from traditional producers (USA, Canada) potentially increases demand for Kazakh Spring wheat on the EU market. European flour millers believe a more sustainable supply from Kazakhstan could be envisaged in the future, in particular if the following aspects are improved:

  • Logistics definitely need local investments. Having to ship through foreign ports results in high transportation costs. The delegation has been informed of a deficit in railway wagons during its stay and there still seems to be difficulties in accessing Black Sea and Baltic Sea ports;
  • Kazak public authorities should foster public and private investments in port capacity on the Baltic Sea;
  • Information about the quality of the new harvest would definitely be welcome by EU flour millers before contracting. This is currently being done by competitors like Canada and the US or within the European Union;
  • Information given by the alveograph and farinograph tests is to be included in the quality information. This is definitely useful to flour millers to measure the strength of wheat;
  • Traditional Russian wheat varieties should be progressively replaced by new varieties to boost yield and maintain a regular export surplus.