With increasing demand for non-GMO products and the entrance into new markets, Milhao Corn Ingredients needed a new maize processing facility that could produce the high-quality corn products its customers and end users demand.

The company (www.milhao.net) already makes more than 25 non-GMO corn derivatives and is actively pursuing additional products through its extensive research and development team to fill the need of more niche markets.

“Milhao wants to further expand its market niches, especially healthy food, as well as expand its product mix through research and development of new corn derivatives,” said Klayton da Luz Lima, Milhao export supervisor. “The expansion of the portfolio and the evolution of Milhao’s products is a priority of our quality, research and development team, which continuously improves our inputs to meet the specific needs of customers worldwide, providing the ideal ingredient to the final product they need.”

To make these new products, Milhao started work on its new Goianira unit in Goias, Brazil, and started operations in November 2017. The facility uses only non-GMO corn to create germ, a variety of flours, grits and hominy that are used in a variety of products. Total capacity at the new facility is 18,000 tonnes per month with the ability to double to 36,000 tonnes over the next three years.

“Our great differential is the quality of the raw material that we have — 100% GMO-free corn, low levels of mycotoxins, flint corn and no cracks, with large, reddish corn kernels,” da Luz Lima said. “Our process has the most advanced industrial resources, such as the digital selector that inspects each grain to meet high technical standards. In addition, our mills and our machinery come from the best suppliers in the world.”

The greenfield project cost $9.3 million and took 23 months to complete, including civil work, assembly and start up. IMAS, based in Konya, Turkey, provided the entire cleaning system, from post-cleaning, suction channel, stone sack up to the plansifters, cylinder bank, turbo sieves and disintegrators. The degerming systems, including the conditioner, the degerminator, the water dosing system and suction system were supplied by Limeira, Brazil-based Zaccaria.

Company History

Founded in 2002, the company is now one of the largest corn processors in the world. Brothers Leandro and Luciano Carneiro acquired Milhao, which was a small corn product factory. Two years later, the company opened its first corn derivatives store focused on animal feed retail and in 2005 it expanded and established a position in the industrial market.

In 2008, recognizing a lack of industries for higher quality ingredients, Milhao made its production exclusively GMO-free and non-GMO industrial ingredients. That same year, the first loads of corn where shipped to Europe. In the following years, the company gained new, important customers such as PepsiCo, Inc. and The Kellogg Co., and expanded to new markets in the Philippines, Haiti, Venezuela, the Caribbean and more.

By 2013, the company earned SGS-HACCP certification, strengthening its commitment to food safety and customer satisfaction. The following year brought significant growth in the agribusiness sector and led to the implementation of programs such as “Quality Reason for Being,” which brings product improvements to customers and Academia de Lideres, which through Milhao University, offers professional improvement to employees.

Milhao earned its FSSC 22000 quality certification in 2015 along with halal certification, which meets the requirement of the Islamic market and kosher certification. That same year, Milhao started its partnership with a well-known business school in Latin America. The corn sales desk was launched to meet wholesale and retail needs, while construction of the new Goianira mill started.

New corporate management was implemented in 2016 with the help of the school, and the next year, over-the-counter popcorn sales was implemented.

Rigorous Process

Grain sourcing is particularly important to Milhao for ensuring its end products are free of GMO. It uses corn flint grain with low levels of mycotoxins, which is dried in the field.

Milhao said it does a rigorous job in seed selection, this year partnering with EMATER-Go and the Federal University of GOAIS on testing 20 new maize varieties in four selected farms. Producers are located within a 250-kilometer radius of the facility. Agronomists accompany and guide the producers in selection of seeds, care in the cultivation, harvesting and safe storage.

“Upon arriving at Milhao’s mill, the corn is subjected to a detailed process that evaluates the conventional preserved identity,” da Luz Lima said. “Once approved, the grain goes through the cleaning steps, selection, degermination and through the grinding machines. Our ingredients undergo rigorous final quality testing before delivery of the product to the customer.”

Milhao has three quality control laboratories, each one focused on one activity: classification analysis, physicochemical analysis and microbiological analysis.

“To ensure our GMO-free quality and our well-preserved conventional identity, we do rigorous and unique testing in our laboratories and we create innovative diagnostics in partnership with a global leader in the development of rapid detection technologies for GMOs and mycotoxins,” da Luz Lima said.

Milhao has corn storage capacity of 20,000 tonnes with room to expand to more than 40,000 tonnes, along with 10,000 tonnes of storage capacity for finished product. The mill is located in an area of 145,200 square meters with a total construction area of 21,700 square meters.

The mill tower includes 5,845 square meters and is 50 meters tall with a subterm, ground floor and six additional floors. The distribution center is 10,000 square meters. The factory tower was designed so that production can be doubled to 36,000 tonnes per month with the acquisition of machinery, over a period of three years.

At the beginning of the milling process, raw material is received in grain hoppers, following testing for transgenic materials and mycotoxins. It is then carried to the pre-cleaning process, with all raw material directed to the grain storage system, which includes metal silos with fully automated thermometry and aeration control systems.

Corn processing is completed in distinct stages, including:

Post-cleaning system: Eliminates any impurities present in the grain. It includes multiple machines supplied by IMAS, including cleaning machines, aspiration channel and stone sack.

First classification system: Segmentation of the raw material by granulometry using plansifters supplied by IMAS.

Degermination: Extracting the germ of the corn and the pericarp through a semi-moist/humid method, using equipment supplied by Zaccaria, including conditioners, a water dosing system, degerminators and TAPs.

Second classification system: The segmentation of finished products by granulometry and optical selection.

Grinding system: The flour creation stage, which uses the cylinder bank supplied by IMAS.

Third classification system: The segmentation of finished products by granulometry and optical selection.

Packing system for finished products.

Product Development

Milhao produces 25 non-GMO corn derivatives, including whole corn, degerminated corn, hominy, corn grits, corn germ, corn flours, and corn cream, which are exported throughout Brazil and more than 40 additional countries. The company recently launched a GMO-free arepa flour, providing a new solution to produce arepas, or traditional corn tortillas that are common in South American cuisine.

Milhao’s products also are used in snacks, condiments, packaging, baby food, breakfast cereals, brewing, cooking, instant food, pasta, baking, mining, animal nutrition, pharmaceuticals and more.

The company also offers several white corn products including whole white corn, white corn flour, white hominy and white coarse grits.

Through its research and development team, Milhao seeks innovation by adding value to products, developing new processes and offering customers new products and services, da Luz Lima said.

Among Milhao’s customers are Danone, Kellogg, PepsiCo, General Mills, Nestle, BRF, Ajinomoto, J. Macedo, AB InBev, M. Dias Branco, Griffith Foods, Kerry, Phibro, Royal Canin and more.