Idaho’s reputation for potatoes is taking a backseat – at least in Asia. The Gem State is selling the island nation of Taiwan five percent of its wheat crop. The deal itself is worth more than half a billion dollars.
This week, Governor Butch Otter and officials from the Taiwanese milling industry signed a $576 million agreement at the statehouse pledging sizeable amounts of the grain will go to the small island just off the Chinese mainland.
Idaho won’t be alone in sending wheat overseas; over the next two years, parts of grain crops from Montana and North Dakota will also make their way to the Asian nation. The two states entered into similar agreements to the one signed by Otter.
The governor says people on the island recognize the quality of Idaho wheat and now consume more wheat-based foods than rice.
According to the Idaho Wheat Commission, Taiwanese millers mostly buy the state’s soft white wheat for use in cookies, crackers and noodles. However, the amount of hard red wheat Taiwan buys for use in bread is on the rise.
The United States supplies over 80 percent of Taiwan's total wheat imports each year. An analysis by U.S. Wheat Associates says export sales of soft white wheat are up more than 40 percent year-to-date.
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