Mühlenchemie hosts Global Miller's Symposium

by Arvin Donley
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Global Miller's Symposium
Volkmar Wywiol gave opening remarks at the 2017 Global Miller's Symposium in Hamburg Germany.
To view the complete slideshow, click here.
Photo by Dan Flavin.
Volkmar Wywiol, founder and managing partner of Hamburg, Germany-based Stern-Wywiol Gruppe, has long been known for his boundless passion for the milling and baking industries.

His love for those industries was on display in April when Mühlenchemie, part of Stern-Wywiol Gruppe, in cooperation with the International Association for Cereal Science and Technology, hosted the Global Miller’s Symposium in Hamburg, Germany. Nearly 350 people from 54 countries attended the two-day event, which featured 28 speakers and an upscale banquet.

Wywiol said the event gives Mühlenchemie the opportunity to show its appreciation for the milling industry.

“It is very important to us to show our customers that we have a lot of knowledge and we like to share that knowledge with our customers,” Wywiol said.

The sessions focused on a wide range of issues, including the latest information on global wheat markets, flour fortification, and wheat and flour quality.


Emerging wheat markets

Vito Martielli, grain and oilseeds analyst for Rabobank, said wheat production will drop in 2017-18, partly due to a 7.5% decrease in wheat acreage in the United States, while growth in consumption is expected to slow. This combination should lead to a gradual increase in wheat prices, he said.

“An increase in production in the E.U. and Argentina can’t offset production cuts in other regions of the world,” Martielli said.

He said “normalized” production from key exporters will result in 22 million fewer tonnes of wheat, a 6% decline from the previous year.

From a consumption standpoint, Martielli said Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are poised to become major importers over the next five years. He said Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to surge past North Africa in terms of wheat imports, while Southeast Asia’s wheat consumption is expected to increase by 4.5% per year over the next four years due to rising incomes in that region as well as soaring demand for instant noodles.

The emerging player in the wheat export market in the coming years, Martielli said, will be the Black Sea region, led by Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

“The Black Sea region has increased its competitiveness recently by gaining a cost advantage from low freight costs and a weak currency,” he said.

Hans-Joachim Braun, director of the Global Wheat Program for CIMMYT, expanded on several of Martielli’s points in his presentation on the potential for growing wheat in Sub-Saharan Africa and other regions. Currently, Sub-Saharan Africa produces about 7 million tonnes of wheat, or about 1% of the world’s production. Braun said that number must rise if the world is going to meet the dramatic increase in grain production needed to feed the burgeoning population, particularly in that region where over 200 million people are currently labeled as “hungry” and the growth of 40% of all children under the age of 5 is stunted due to malnutrition.

“The African food production systems will only meet 13% of the continent’s needs by 2050 in a business-as-usual scenario,” he said.

He said wheat imports constitute about one-third of Africa’s total food import expenditures. Overall, Africa is the largest wheat importer, having brought in 40 billion tonnes in 2015 costing about $16 billion.

The good news, Braun said, is Africa has great potential for wheat production. He pointed to the transformation in Ethiopia from producing just 500,000 tonnes of wheat in 1980 to 4.3 million tonnes in 2015.

He said some of the highest spring wheat yields worldwide are in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Egypt. Braun said the roadblocks to increased wheat production are not agricultural but more due to sociocultural, infrastructure and policy impediments.