Early in the year, targets reached during the previous year are analyzed, achievements are assessed, considerations are made and the future is planned, thus trying to learn a lesson from what has been previously “learnt” or “suffered”.As to the milling sector, 2015 was a difficult year due to the difficulties that the economic crisis kept emphasizing.
While the soft wheat sector registered a lower wheat quotation, and therefore a greater financial availability and an increasing global market, the durum wheat sector remained high, even if prices went down.
In fact, it had to compete against soft wheat prices in the international markets. This made things rather difficult for the pasta value chain, especially in Italy where the “purity” law for dry pasta is enforced: pasta must be made of 100% durum wheat and cannot contain soft wheat flours.
Therefore – especially in the last months of the year – semolina production decreased; a smaller quantity of semolina was processed, which is quite weird. By-products took advantage of this situation; their quantity was reduced and their prices significantly increased.
In 2016 cereals quotations are expected to remain steady, therefore there will only be short-term supplies; in fact no fluctuation in raw materials quotations is not stimulating. The sluggish situation will make entrepreneurs search elsewhere a way to create added value in a mature sector.
Global crop years were rich as far as all raw materials are concerned: soft and durum wheat, corn and soybean. Since there is no fair distribution of global crops, the developed countries – where there is no shortage of raw materials – will tend to improve the quality of crops and invest in niche sectors (e.g. the organic sector), develop short value chains, promote creations of big milling groups. On the contrary, wherever agricultural commodities are not enough to meet the domestic needs (thus unable to feed the population or to meet the processing industry demands) crop quantities will tend to increase.
For the milling industry, interesting business opportunities could be expected in the biogas sector. A couple of years ago, the United States became energy self-sufficient other countries should follow suit. “Green energy” plants mainly run through cut maize. However, many are going to use by-products of other agricultural raw materials. A situation with which grain processing industries will have to increasingly interact. Therefore, this is an interesting “client” that we could satisfy, and an additional opportunity to increase our business.
A similar goal could also benefit pasta: if the value chain works well upstream, it will work fine downstream as well. If mills and semolina factories can increase their turnover by exploiting the biogas sector, they will not run the risk of shutting down due to the economic conjuncture or to competitors. Therefore, the processing industry will continue to get its supplies from a wide range of options. More competition, more available quality semolina. For the benefit of the finished product quality.