November 18, 2013

18/11/13: Interview: IAOM - milling and food production in the USA

Below is an extract from an interview with Melinda Farris, executive vice president, International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM). The interview was carried out by Grain and Feed Milling Technology's own Tom Blacker at the IAOM Mideast and Africa Expo, which was held in Sousse Tunisia at the beginning of November.

In light of the struggle to feed an ever-increasing population, Farris spoke about the role of milling in the USA today as well as the impact of changing food production demands.

Is it tough getting people into milling in the USA?
Well of course it is. It is not a glamorous job. Nobody knows about it either! We are working on awareness.
What about organising visits to mills?
It is really hard getting mills to open up to the public these days because of security issues. There used to be that possibility but not really at the moment.

In the UK, a new initiative for mills and fish farms to interact with primary schools started as part of the curriculum last year. Bakers come in and teach the processes of baking. It is really back-to-basic...
That's terrific! When I was a kid we would do things like that and go on tours but I grew up in the country - we would go to farms occasionally. There has been a big change to nowadays with healthier food. 'Whole wheat' demand is causing a switch to production. Consumption has already increased. Do we embrace it? A lot of the press [mass media] is not accurate on this issue. 

We see a lot of transitions...
Absolutely. The craze in the USA of the Atkins diet and South Beach diet where nobody ate any carbs really had an impact. I came into the association [IAOM] at about the tail end of that time. The recession helped right? People went back to more basic foods!

Yes it seems that bread and other foods from this industry has stayed relatively recession proof too in Europe and the USA, at least compared to other foods. That is what we heard from nabim and the London and South East Millers Association.

Visit the IAOM website here...

Melinda Farris, executive vice president, IAOM

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