European maize millers are the largest single food users of domestic maize, which represent 90% of their supply.
The main maize growing areas in Europe are France, Italy, Spain and Hungary. The European maize milling industry mainly uses selected maize from France, Italy and also selected imported grain from Argentina.
French maize is typically used for snack foods and brewers’ grits, while Italian maize is typically used for polenta. Argentinean maize is typically used for breakfast cereals.
euromaisiers members’ activity is a dry process. Contrary to the dry-milling process, the wet-milling process uses large amounts of water with the intention to achieve a full separation of the grain’s starch from its protein for the production gluten, starch, etc.
Milling is a continuous process and mills are operating 24 hours a day, seven days per week with infrequent maintenance shutdowns. Therefore maize millers must constantly secure maize supply in the required quality and quantity.
When milling a maize grain:
- The bran is found in the grain’s pericarp and, when mixed with the starchy endosperm, can be used in the composition of complete feed materials;
- The vitreous endosperm is the most starch-rich part of the kernel. After several milling, separation and blending phases, a wide range of products is obtained, from semolina to flour and grits;
- The germ is used to extract a virgin maize oil. After roasting, the maize germ can be used in a multitude of products for its notes of hazelnut and toasted cereal flavours.
The maize milling industry plays a central role in the cereal chain, turning safe & quality grain into a range of products for further processing and human consumption.
Harvest seasonality & continuous process: maize millers process maïze, the availability of which is subject to seasonality and climate variations. Mills have to ensure their continuous supply, as the transformation process cannot be interrupted.
Large volumes to reach economies of scale: the processing of agricultural bulk commodities requires the transformation of large volumes to reach economies of scale and be profitable. Typically, primary food processors are small margin businesses.
Business to business: the maize millers sell most of their products B2B to downstream food manufacturers.
The products of maize dry milling include flaking grits, coarse, medium and fine grits, coarse or granulated meal, fine meal and maize flour. Grits from yellow and orange maize are preferred, but white maize has also an interesting consumers niche.
Flaking grits are used for the manufacture of the ready-to-eat breakfast cereal cornflakes.
Coarse grits and medium grits are used in the manufacture of cereal products and snack foods. Brewing houses require special grits, including fine, medium and coarse grits.
Maize porridge, made from fine grits or coarse meal (flour), and flavoured with cheese, is called polenta. Coarse or granulated meal is used in pancake and muffin mixes, corn snacks, cereal products and other bakery uses.
Fine meal is used for making maize bread and in bakery mixes, infant foods and breakfast cereals.
Maize flour uses include bread and pancake mixes, infant foods, biscuits, wafers, as filler and carrier in meat products, and in breakfast cereals.
With a constantly increasing multiethnic population in Europe, maize milled products are also used today for the production of ethnic foods.
The co-products of the maize milling products, such as maize middlings, are valuable ingredients used for compound feed production. Maize germ is destined to oil refineries producing maize oil.
Most of the primary foods processed by the European maize milling industry (maize flour, brewing grits, flaking grits, corn grits and co-products) are sold to the second- processing food and feed industry on the European market.
A small share is nonetheless exported each year as added-value products towards outside Europe. For ex., more than 200 000 tonnes of corn grits are exported every year to 3rd countries. The main destinations for maize milled products are North & Central Africa and South America. The portion of products exported to Asia has not yet reached large volumes.
The evolution in the global grain markets influences the availability and price volatility of raw maize. The crop forecasts and balance sheets are important tools to analyse the market situation and enable taking informed decisions.
euromaisiers provides for a forum for exchange of views on the market situation for its members, under the strict observation of antitrust rules.