U.S. Grains Council Hosts Third Annual Global Starch Conference

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) held its third annual Global Starch Conference in Chicago, IL on June 10-13, drawing more than 80 participants from nearly 15 countries. Speaker presentations focused on the fundamentals of corn wet milling, wet milling technologies and enzyme uses, sustainability, grain storage and value-based procurement. Invitees included staff from technical and processing departments of global wet milling plants and procurement managers.

Dr. Vijay Singh of the University of Illinois gave the first presentation of the conference, sharing the results of a three-year research project that showed U.S.-origin corn can yield two to four percent more starch extractability in corn wet milling, which can translate to roughly one million dollars in additional revenue for wet millers each year. Additionally, research showed that U.S.-origin corn only requires 24 hours of steeping, compared to 48 hours needed for corn of other origins, greatly impacting the output and overall efficiency of wet milling plants.

“The research project highlights how U.S. corn can directly create a positive economic impact for wet milling plants around the world. Procurement-related presentations also allowed participants to see how corn origin and performance can impact all aspects of the value chain,” said Alexander Grabois, USGC manager of global strategies and trade. “We hope attendees’ key takeaways are the importance of considering a variety of non-price factors upon procurement and the return on investment for superior performing corn will offset any price premiums.”

The conference also included producer perspectives from Illinois Corn Marketing Board Past Chairman Mark Wilson and Iowa Corn Growers’ Association Director Mark Mueller, who gave participants a more detailed look into the harvesting process and sustainability practices of U.S. producers. This outlook, along with shipping logistics updates, was an important measure to show international customers how their product is being traded and what to look for in the coming months. Following the conference the international delegation visited farms and river loading facilities with the goal of creating more awareness of the grain origination process and understanding how grain quality is monitored throughout the process.

“The wet milling industry is projected to grow exponentially in the coming years, and demand for starch in both industrial and food uses will require procurement managers to see high-quality corn as an investment in an ingredient that will add value to the operation and co-products, and not just a commodity,” Grabois said.

Read more about the Council’s work in corn and corn co-products here.