Columbia Grain International Sees Durum Sales Soar Spurred by Pandemic Buying

Milling Journal

Portland, OR – May 2020 – Columbia Grain International (CGI), a leading worldwide grain and pulse supplier with a footprint across the western region of the US, reports domestic sales of durum wheat is on the rise with consumers stocking up on high-quality semolina pasta as lockdowns continue.

With Americans steering clear of restaurants and opting to cook at home as a result of COVID-19, affordable, shelf-stable staples are still flying off the grocery store shelves.

According to Research and Markets, another factor that has caused increased sales of dried pasta is the impact the global crisis had on consumer finances, with many looking for economical ways to feed their families such as pasta dishes, casseroles and stews.

The spike in demand for dried pasta and noodles has also boosted demand for wheat, leading to rising wheat prices across the US and Europe.

“The pandemic has inspired Americans to try new things and make changes to their dietary habits and eating patterns,” said Senior Vice President of Grains and Oilseeds for Columbia Grain International, Kurt Haarmann.

“Consumers are stocking up on pasta to cook at home in new and different ways, and the longer the stay a home orders last, the longer term that trend will be.”

Columbia Grain International reports increased durum acreage, which is being planted now in their Northeastern Montana and Northwestern North Dakota footprints to keep up with the current spike in demand.

However, while durum demand is up, there is a decline in restaurant demand for bulk industrial flour by bakeries that serve restaurants, commonly used for baked goods.

With plenty of volatility in global wheat trade dynamics as a result of COVID-19, Columbia Grain International remains well positioned to fulfill national as well as export requests.

They’ve already had incremental business growth in spring wheat and soybeans from the Chinese market and could see an uptick in requests from the EU as well.

Columbia Grain International is also experiencing an increased demand from China as part of the Phase One agreement.

Based on the Chinese commitments under that agreement, Haarman expects the PNW port range to provide at least 500,000 metric tons of wheat to China during the 2020-21 marketing year for a 35% total rise.

While Columbia Grain International reports that the pandemic has spurred a short term increase in domestic wheat demand, they are uncertain if wheat sales will remain at this level throughout 2020.

However, as the meat industry experiences COVID-19 related shutdowns, affecting the availability and price of meat, Columbia Grain International predicts that consumer spending will be up on plant-based proteins as well as wheat-based pastas.

For more information, please contact Christina Madrid at 805-576-7102 or

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