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Grain agency builds, develops wheat market opportunities

Sask. Wheat members recently heard all about the CIGI
CIGI sask wheat Dean Dias
Dean Dias (Ron Walter photograph)

Service for wheat customers of Canada happens at the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI).

“No other country that exports wheat has an organization like CIGI,” Dean Dias, CIGI director of value chain relations told a Sask. Wheat session in Moose Jaw.

Competing nations “are envious of what we have.”

The independent non-profit CIGI has worked with domestic and international customers on end product quality since 1972.

“The object is to increase market opportunity and end product user success.”

Recently, Nigeria increased wheat purchases from Canada. CIGI worked with Nigerian millers to develop the best bakery products.

Nigerian bakers tend to let dough rise most of the day and bake for an early evening sale, needing different techniques than in Canada.

“For us to profit every link in the value chain has to be profitable. Our role is to work with customers around the world and make sure they understand how to use Canadian wheat to the best possible quality standards.”

CIGI operates a commercial flour mill, bakery, pasta plant and analytical lab in Winnipeg.

In-market work with customers shows how to use that crop best by travel to customers to visiting tours and has worked with 18,000 participants from 70 countries.

Dias said CIGI sits on the grain variety selection committee to ensure new registered varieties meet quality standards.

Annual harvest samples from grain producers are used to inform buyers in one-on-one conversations on current crop quality, how it has changed.

Many buyers take Canadian wheat for “the well-respected quality.” Japan could buy cheaper Russian wheat but pays a premium for Canadian production. 

While Canada grows four per cent of world wheat supplies, it exports 14 per cent, making retention of markets and new markets important.

Funded with $6 million mostly by private industry, producer organizations with some government money, CIGI works 80 per cent on wheat, 15 per cent on pulses and the rest on special crops.

Ron Walter can be reached at