Anyone who doesn’t buy into the fact that we operate in a truly global marketplace is only fooling themselves.
That point was clearly reinforced as I sat down for the opening luncheon at the 2008 International Grain Quality and Technology Congress. Joining me at the table were two Argentine researchers, a South African grain industry representative, our keynote speaker representing a Dutch-based financial giant that is a major player in U.S. agribusiness, and all of this, taking place in Arlington Heights, IL. Now that’s global.
With the express purpose of bringing together some of the brightest minds from the public, private and regulatory sectors to discuss cutting-edge research and the trends driving those efforts, the Congress seemed to have executed their design to near perfection.
“We are extremely pleased with the depth and breadth of expertise represented here at the Congress,” said Dr. Dirk Maier, department head, Grain Science and Industry, Kansas State University, and a co-organizer of the event. “It is clear that the subject of grain quality is important to all links of the production and processing chain because the ability to develop new markets, innovate new products and capture value, depends on the industry’s ability to deliver a quality product to the marketplace.”
The term “grain quality” has assumed a life of its own in the grain and feed manufacturing industry, and is as easily misunderstood as it is clearly defined.
Using an overall event goal of providing a global symposium to uncover opportunities and challenges involved in creating and capturing value in the grain-based food, feed, fiber and fuel supply chains, Congress organizers used input from a variety of sources to create three distinct education tracks based on specific research objectives.
The specific objectives of this Congress were to present current research-based knowledge and information on industry practice on:
1. Characterization of quality attributes and measurement technologies to quantify agronomic, quality and end use traits of cereals, oilseeds and co-products within the food, feed, fiber and bioenergy complex.
2. Best management practices, systems and technologies to maintain and assure the identity, purity, integrity, consistency, quality, biosecurity and marketability of cereals, oilseeds and co-products through the supply chains from production through harvest, handling, post-harvest, and processing operations, to final end use.
3. Economic assessment of measurement technologies and management practices for creating and capturing value within the food, feed, fiber and bioenergy complex.
With an over-arching goal set and clearly stated objectives as its guide, I was eagerly awaiting the Congress’ download of the latest research and technical information on grain quality.
All I can say is my expectations were richly rewarded.
Product and process quality
While much of the attention given to grain quality centers around the product itself, which is rightfully so considering it’s the end-user needs and demands which drive the marketplace, more emphasis is being placed on the informatics used to define quality and value.
“Whereas maybe a half-century ago it was a new equipment technology or more recently, advances in biotechnology with seed development, which delivered marketplace value and opportunity; today and in the near future, it’s how we measure, evaluate and manage the information we glean from grain and grain products that delivers value,” says Dr. Peter Goldsmith, executive director, National Soybean Research Lab, associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, and co-organizer of the Congress.
“Revealing the hidden opportunities evident in every kernel of grain, measuring and assigning a value to its properties and using that information to benefit a customer or end user is what this is all about,” Goldsmith adds proudly.