Maize taps specialty markets

Photo of a corn

THE INCREASING popularity of Mexican-style food, boutique beers and lingering consumer fears about genetically modified crops are all working in favour of a growing maize industry in this country.

Director of Forbes grain business Lachlan Commodities, Tony Cogswell, told this year's Fifth Australian Maize Conference in Toowoomba that specialty market opportunities exist for Australian maize in Asia despite our limited production.

Mr Cogswell said Asians are developing a taste for cornbased Mexican food and also using maize in some beers. "Overall, Japan imports 16.5 million metric tonnes (mmt) of maize and South Korea 10 mmt, most of it for stockfeed and starch production."

Lachlan Commodities has been supplying identitypreserved, GMO-free maize to Asia since 1996, predominantly to Japan and the Republic of South Korea, but also to Taiwan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, Mr Cogswell said.

These specialty markets demand product that is identity preserved , variety-specific, with nil blending and contamination, of consistent processing quality and delivered at the quality buyers want. "We are also one of the few countries that can get government certification of non-GMO status without a lot of testing."

Limitations on Australia's maize trade include higher transport costs, the high cost of finance and the volatility of the Australian dollar, he said. "On the positive side, because such a high percentage of the Australian maize crop is irrigated, we can supply consistent quality and volumes."

Australia's maize production had grown remarkably over the last six to eight years, from 240,000 tonnes to around 530,000 tonnes, he said.

Contact: Mr Tony Cogswell 02 6851 2077