LONDON, ENGLAND — Global industrial use of grain in 2013-14 was forecast by the International Grains Council (IGC) to grow at the fastest pace in three years. The expected 5% gain, to 314.4 million tonnes, reflected not only increased production of biofuels but also what the IGC said was “accelerating demand” for brewing and starch-based products.

At 314.4 million tonnes, industrial use of grains in  2013-14 set a new record and compares with 299.5 million in the preceding year. The previous peak was 305.7 million tonnes in 2011-12, which was up 3% from 297 million in 2010-11.

According to the IGC, the upward trend in industrial use of grains resumed in the current season due to “lower production costs following a record global grains harvest, particularly of maize.”

Of the three main industrial uses, ethanol continued far in the lead, accounting for 164.2 million tonnes in 2013-14, against 156 million in the previous season and 162.8 million in 2011-12. 

Within the ethanol total, use for making biofuels accounted for the major share, using 149.1 million tonnes in 2013-14, against 140.9 million in the prior year and 147.8 million in 2011-12.

Global use of grains for making starch products was projected to continue on a steadily rising trend. The projection for current season was 112.7 million tonnes, up 5% from 102.7 million in 2012-13 and compared with 106.5 million in 2011-12.

Processing grain for brewing was forecast to use 36.4 million tonnes in 2013-14, against 35.4 million in both 2012-13 and 2011-12.

Referencing the impact of major swings in maize production and prices, the IGC also pointed to U.S. government regulations and their impact. Blending obligations for maize-based ethanol were scheduled to increase in 2014, it noted, but the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changes that point to a reduction of the maize-based ethanol mandate.

“This would not represent a cap on ethanol production,” the Grains Council observed. “Given reduced ethanol stocks, a depleted supply of excess Renewable Identification Numbers from previous years, favorable production margins and prospects for further increase in ethanol exports, use of maize for ethanol production could still see robust growth during 2013-14.”

The IGC forecast that 124.5 million tonnes of maize will be used in the U.S. to make biofuels, up 5% from 118.1 million in 2012-13, but still less than the 127 million tonnes used in 2011-12 and 2010-11.

Of the estimated 149 million tonnes of grain that will be used globally in 2013-14 to make biofuels, the U.S. accounts for 85%. Other nations processing grains to make biofuels include the E.U., 10 million tonnes; Canada, 3.3 million; China, 5.5 million; Argentina, 1 million, and all others, 1.5 million.

Maize accounts for 93% of grain used to make biofuels, or 139 million of 149 million tonnes. Wheat use was 5.7 million tonnes and sorghum 3.1 million, followed by small quantities of barley and rye.