(Posted Tue. Jun 7th, 2016)
Low prices in agriculture have created a little negativism these days but discussions at the 2016 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference took on a decidedly more positive tone starting with the opening session Monday night.
Kris Lutt, President, Sweeteners, Starches and Acidulants, told the group of 250 scientists, students, farmers and corn milling industry representatives he is very optimistic about the industry outlook and noted several areas that will provide more opportunities for the use of corn. These include building more foreign market demand, the development of new products made from corn, increasing worldwide demand for meat, focusing more on food safety and security and continuing to develop alternatives to petroleum.
NCGA CEO Chris Novak says that the need for new technologies to utilize corn has come about since farmers realized that with new production technology they can create a surplus. NCGA is very attuned to this dynamic he said and the organization’s farmer leaders have created a new strategic plan reflects a new commitment to building corn demand.
Lutt noted the world will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we did in the previous 10,000 years and that alone presents enormous opportunity. And how are we going to meet that demand? He offered s three step approach as a place to start:
And corn growers are off to a great start with planted acres from 1980-2015 up only 5% but yields have doubled. That’s the equivalent of 80 million virtual acres, and pretty much using the same crop inputs, seed, fertilizer, etc…as we did in 1948.
Wade Ellis, Bunge North America president and general manager of milling, pointed out how much the corn world has changed since CUTC began two decades ago. Traceability and sustainability will be watch words for progress in the corn world. This holds true for both corn farmers and industry partners like Bunge. Not all consumers will use the increasing amount of information being made available but that doesn’t lessen the need to provide the data and connections consumers want.
For corn processors who are providing s growing list of products that will mean a lot of work and engagement.
“We want a lot of products out there that compete against each other,” Lutt said. It’s what he calls “the fight for the grind” and that’s where profit lives for corn. Both Lutt and Ellis emphasized you can make almost anything from corn but you have to make it competitively.”
And that’s what CUTC is about; ideas, equipment, processes and technology that produce more corn products that are both functional and profitable.
Photos on Flickr/NCGApictures