“Five years ago Ukraine was known as a feed wheat exporter. Now Ukraine is catching up with Russia, becoming an exporter of milling wheat, and there are more and more destinations where Ukrainian milling wheat is competing with it.”
Vice President of the Cotecna Group
for the Baltic and Black Sea market
Interview / Namık Kemal Parlak
Arina Korchmaryova is a leading international expert on agri-food product quality and safety, a dynamic participant and speaker at international conferences (more than 30+ speeches in 10+ countries across the world), and author of over 50 publications in agri\business media. Arina is also a consultant of the FAO on international best practices and projects, an organizer and speaker at specialized training and seminars (for both the public and private sector), and producer of tours to assess the quality and safety of crops. Since 2014, Arina is the head of Cotecna Inspection’s business group for the Baltic and the Black Sea markets.
She answered our questions on Black Sea wheat quality. Here is the interview with Arina Korchmaryova, BSc Chemistry and Biotechnology, MBA, Harvard Business School AMP, Vice President of the Cotecna Group for the Baltic and Black Seas market.
What can you say about Ukrainian wheat quality in the current season?
About 2 months ago I received lots of questions about wheat quality in the region as there were many concerns about quality, especially of Ukrainian wheat. There were talks that the quantity of Ukrainian wheat would be great but the quality might decrease. From what we see now I may say we are in general satisfied with the quality. We see a very good protein level in Ukrainian wheat, as we see average levels at close to 12,5%. I would like to mention that 3 years ago we had almost never seen 13% protein content in wheat in Ukraine and 5 years ago Ukraine was known as a feed wheat exporter. Now Ukraine is catching up with Russia, becoming an exporter of milling wheat, and there are more and more destinations where Ukrainian milling wheat is competing with it.
In general, the new crop wheat quality in Ukraine is good. However, due to different levels of precipitation across the country (for example, in the south, there was traditionally less rain than in other regions), the quality of wheat from different regions may be heterogeneous.
For the current moment, we see the test weight a bit lower compared to last year. The main reason is that at the last stages of grain ripening in some regions of Ukraine, the temperature reached above +30 C degrees, which negatively affected the quality of wheat since such a temperature causes intense evaporation. The matter is that a root system at this stage of ripening is already very weak and, as a result, it does not have enough time to supply moisture to the ear. Due to this, incomplete grain filling occurs, and it becomes shriveled and underdeveloped.
Also, the high temperatures during crop ripening could affect the falling number, which, due to the heat, can reach up to 400 seconds on some parcels. Regarding such important criteria for wheat quality as bug damage, the situation this year is good and approximately is at the level of the previous one.
And what can you tell about Russian wheat quality in season 2021\22 ?
Regarding Russian wheat, the quality is excellent again. What is good about Russian wheat is that it usually has stable high wheat quality year-after-year. Also, this year, we see good quality of wheat from other Black Sea region countries like Bulgaria and Romania.
Regarding, changing the wheat origin for importers – like we see this season on the example of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria – how fast and easy is this process?
The quality of wheat defines the flour characteristics and ultimately the quality of the bread. Miller preference often depends on historical patterns. Many millers have got used to a particular wheat origin, which has led to the adoption of a technological map and familiarity. They know how to blend it and they know exactly how to get a continuous stable result, i.e. a flour of the necessary quality.
When the origin changes, many questions arise. We in Cotecna step up to provide additional important information and answer questions of the importers\millers on rheological characteristics of wheat, because Ukrainian wheat performs differently than, for example, Russian wheat. Not because it's worse or better, it is just different - different grades, different parameters. That’s why you can not just replace Russian wheat with Ukrainian wheat, it needs to have a proper introduction to the target market and necessary technical\technology informational support.