Gluten-Free And Changing Global Market Affect Wyoming Wheat Growers

Jun 6, 2016

Credit CC0 Public Domain

With more people eating gluten-free diets and more countries growing their own wheat, Wyoming growers are getting stuck with more product than they can sell.

Weather conditions in the last few years have allowed Wyoming wheat producers to grow lots of wheat they used to be able sell to around the world. But Wyoming Wheat Market Commission Director Keith Kennedy says many countries, like those in Eastern Europe, are now growing their own wheat. He says the ratio of how much wheat the state has to how much can be sold is the highest it’s been since the farm crisis of the 80’s.

“It’s kind of a rough time but things can change so rapidly because we deal across the world too,” says Kennedy.

He says the wheat industry considers the gluten-free diet a fad that is already starting to fade.

“It appears that that fad has started to trend down and we’re seeing more articles now that are more gluten friendly. And people do also tend to forget that gluten is a protein. And the world still consumes about 20 percent of its calories are from wheat. So wheat will probably be around for a while yet.”

Kennedy says, Wyoming wheat growers are responding to the sharp price downturn by diversifying. Some are growing hay and raising cattle while others are adding value to their wheat by switching to organic.