Millers gather in Tanzania

IAOM Mideast & Africa Conference

The  19th Annual  International Association  of Operative Millers (IAOM) Mideast and Africa District Conference and Expo, held for the first time in a sub-Saharan country, drew nearly 500 participants and 60 exhibitors to the city of Arusha in northern Tanzania Nov. 14-17.

With Mount Kilimanjaro looming just to the east and the fabled Serengeti plains stretching to the northwest of the conference site, attendees listened to presentations on the latest technological developments in milling, were briefed on wheat crop conditions in all major exporting regions, visited vendors’ display booths and networked with their professional colleagues.

Said Salim Bakhresa & Company Ltd., East Africa’s largest milling company with operations in six countries, hosted the event. The company’s executive director and chairman of the conference, Abubakar Said Salim Bakhresea, in his welcome speech  touched on  several  challenges  facing millers  in East Africa, where high world wheat prices exacerbated by import tariffs have caused a decline in wheat four consumption.

In  her  remarks, Tanzania’s Minister  for  Industries, Trade and Marketing, Dr. Marry Nagu, talked about the world food crisis and grain production problems facing Tanzanian farmers due to a doubling in fertilizer prices.

The conference was organized jointly by Bakhresa staff and the recently established permanent IAOM Mideast and Africa District offce  in Muscat, Oman. Praise was nearly universal from participants  for  the quality of  the  technical and educational program and from exhibitors for the number of millers and grain companies visiting their stands, many of whom were at the event for the first time.

In addition to the traditionally strong showing from Middle Eastern  countries,  at  least  15 African  nations,  ranging from Algeria  to Mozambique  to Zambia, were  represented by milling professionals.

Martin Schlauri, head of Buhler AG’s milling business unit, called  the  IAOM  “an  opportunity  for  us  to  show  our  latest technology to a large audience and also to thank our customers by sponsoring an evening.”

Another exhibitor, Pietro Barbalaga of Omas S.r.L., said: “It was our first time in Tanzania, and it was a positive show. We understood there was a good interest for Italian systems. We found an agent for  the market and collected a few quotation inquiries.” Companies offering  functional  ingredients and  instrument manufacturers  saw particularly heavy  traffic  at  their booths. The region’s millers have been  increasing  their use of wheat from Black Sea  origins. However,  the  quality  of  this wheat
is  less reliable  than  traditional sources, which means relying more on laboratory analysis and the use of four improvers.

Laurent  Clair  of  Chopin Technologies  observed,  “At  last year’s IAOM, we introduced the benefits of our empirametric method to the millers, and this year we had strong interest in our interpretative tool that makes their lives easier.”

The higher profile of grain traders at the annual event was also a noticeable trend this year. Perhaps in recognition of the increasing  share of  the world’s wheat  exports  accounted  for by  the  region,  the  traders have stepped up  their visibility by exhibiting, making presentations and sponsoring parts of the program.  In  addition  to  longtime Mideast & Africa District supporters U.S. Wheat Associates  (USW), Canadian Wheat Board, Australian Wheat Board and France Export Cereales companies  such  as  Cargill,  Louis  Dreyfus  Commodities Bunge,  Noble  Resources,  Concordia Agritrading,  Glencore Grain, Nidera, The Ontario Wheat Board and  the Ukrainian company Nibulon swelled  the ranks of grain  trade organizations playing a signifcant role in this year’s event.

Quality  issues dominated  the first day of  educational  sessions. The  technical program  included Buhler’s presentation on  “Ultimate  Product  Safety  and  Quality,”  USW’S  “King Consistency,”  and France Export Cereales’ discussion  about preserving wheat protein in milling. Mycotoxin and MRL legislation, mill fumigations and wheat breading were covered bySGS, Insects Ltd. and CWB, respectively.

Al Ghurair Foods presented its research on bread from date fibers  and Bakhresa Grain Milling  shared  its  experience  in composite bread four.

The  second  day  included  a well-attended  trading  seminar where  the world wheat crop was analyzed by export  region. On the final day, nine exhibitors presented their newest products and services during the “What’s New?” program. The 20th  annual  IAOM Mideast  and Africa District Conference will be held near Antalya on Turkey’s southern coast Oct. 23-26, 2009. The host organization will be  the Turkish Flour Industrialists’ Federation, whose chairman, Edip Aktas, presented  the venue on  the  last day of  the Arusha program. With 750 operating mills in Turkey and an annual wheat grind exceeding 15 million tonnes, domestic industry participation is expected to balloon the attendance figure.

Most  presentations  from  the Tanzania  conference  can  be found at www.iaom-mea.com.

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