WHEAT IMPORTS by flour millers are expected to be little changed this year with demand for wheat products tempered by the commodity’s high price on world markets.
“I can project that imports will be flat this year at 2.6 million metric tons (MT) same as last year’s total,” Philippine Association of Flour Millers, Inc. executive Director Ricardo M. Pinca said in an interview in Pasay City on Monday.
Mr. Pinca estimates US wheat prices at $5 per bushel, up 25% from a year earlier.
At least 90% of the country’s wheat imports are sourced from the US which Mr. Pinca said can deliver wheat at guaranteed quantities and consistent quality.
Mr. Pinca said increasing fuel, freight and logistics cost as well as the peso’s depreciation against the dollar are compounding the industry’s challenges.
In the six months to June, total wheat shipments amounted to 1.3 million MT, flat from a year earlier.
However, the group is banking on the possibility of a pick up in the last quarter of the year during which consumption is usually bolstered by holiday demand. At least half of domestically-milled flour goes to bread production while the balance tends to go to noodles, cookies and crackers.
He said Mabuhay Interflour Mills’ expanded Subic facility is expected to enter commercial operations within the year.
There are currently 21 flour millers in operation, with 5.85 million MT worth of capacity in 2018, up 15.38%.
Two new wheat flour millers are expected to add to the capacity by at least 200,000 tons next year to help meet the expected recovery in demand by then.
The millers currently operating are RFM Corp., Liberty Flour Mills, Universal Robina Corp., Wellington Flour Mills, Philippine Flour Mills, Philippine Foremost Milling Corp., Morning Star Flour Mills, Delta Milling Corp., and North Star Flour Mill;
Great Earth Industriall Food Inc., California Flour Mill., Mabuhay Interflour Mills., Monde Nissin Corp., Atlantic Grain, Inc., AgriPacific/Rebisco., San Miguel Mills Inc., Pacific Flour Mills, Pilmico Foods Corp., General Milling Corp., Asian Grain Inc., and New Hope Flour Mills. — Janina C. Lim