Weekly Market Highlights
- Growing conditions that are too dry at this stage of spring wheat development are now reported in the U.S., the Ukraine, the European Union, a portion of Western Australia and a bit of the Canadian crop as well. These global concerns are driving wheat futures prices higher.
- In the U.S., protein content in our winter wheat harvest runs a close second to spring wheat growing concerns. The potential for another low protein winter wheat crop is the driver behind some of the highest winter wheat basis levels we’ve seen.
- It is now widely believed that we have seen the lowest prices of the season for wheat and flour already this year. Even though there are still good supplies of wheat worldwide, much of it is not milling quality and lacks the protein millers require.
- Wednesday’s futures markets fell back some, and the rise in basis premiums paused. Weather news and crop reports will determine whether these markets resume their climb or set back as concerns had been overblown.
- Prices at these levels could coax wheat to market and provide some relief to these high prices, but if growing conditions in this many markets around the world continue to deteriorate, we could see much higher futures prices.
Facts on Flour: Bleaching Flour
The term “bleaching” is a traditional baking industry term that refers to both the whitening and maturing (aging) of flour. Bleaching best describes the process of whitening. Technically speaking, the carotenoid (yellow) pigments in the flour are oxidized to produce whiter flour. Oxidization will occur naturally, over time, with the exposure of flour to air. Historically, millers would age flour for several weeks to achieve white flour. This natural oxidation, however, was an irregular process requiring considerable time and space.
Today the bleaching process is accomplished by the use of bleaching agents. The two most common bleaching agents are benzoyl peroxide and chlorine gas. Flours treated with bleaching agents must be labeled as bleached flour. Next week we’ll talk about flour maturing.
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