If the inaugural meeting is any indication, the future of the Asia-Pacific District of the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) looks very promising.
"It was better than I could have hoped for," IAOM Executive Vice-President Melinda Farris said. "We had 120 people overall, and the majority were millers — at least 60 or 70 percent. There was very good enthusiasm at the meeting."
The meeting was held Aug. 9-11 at the Le Meriden Phuket Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand. It attracted delegates from more than 20 countries and featured presentations by industry experts from around the world who covered topics as diverse as flour specifications for end-product quality, flour fortification, measuring and controlling milling performance, and pest management.
An expo drew 11 exhibitors who answered millers’ questions about new trends and technological advances in equipment and services.
One of the most popular presentations was given by Professor Li Dongsen of Golden Grain International, a milling equipment manufacturer based in Zhengzhong, China, on trends in the Chinese milling industry. Dongsen explained that in China, as in many other Asian countries, a top priority for millers is getting the ash content of the flour as low as possible since the degree of whiteness of the flour is important to customers in the region.
Golden Grain was a gold sponsor of the event as were Swiss milling equipment manufacturers Buhler AG and Sefar. Farris anticipates a much larger expo next year.
"Part of problem this year was that we weren’t able to finalize our plans for the Asia-Pacific event until April. As a result, many companies did not have enough lead time to plan their participation," Farris said.
Farris said there has been interest in the Asia-Pacific region for starting a district for some time. "While in Thailand, we heard comments like, ‘We see articles in World Grain and other magazines about IAOM events in different parts of the world and wonder why IAOM isn’t here?’" Farris said. "It was evident that their interest was there. The Leadership Council meeting was open to anyone who wanted to come, and the room was completely full."
The Flour Fortification Initiative (FFI) held a workshop on the third day of the conference to provide an overview of the technical aspects of how flour millers can be part of this health strategy and explain why fortification is beneficial to millers. Farris said about 50 people attended the FFI workshop.
Farris said next year’s event will be held in September in either Malaysia or Indonesia. The companies co-chairing the 2011 meeting — Interflour Group pte Ltd. and Bogasari Flour Mills — are both based in that region.
"It really says a lot about the potential of this district that two of the largest milling companies in the region have agreed to co-chair the event — and all of the companies present wanted to be involved," Farris said.