• Milling is the agro-processing end of the grain industry. Milling grain involves breaking the grain open so that the bran and endosperm are separated, and then processed for further uses.
  • White maize and wheat flour milling are the core business in milling, while associated business are baking, pasta, wet milling (see next heading), animal feeds and malting (barley and sorghum). Other grains like rice can also be milled (see www.saricemills.co.za).
  • The milling industry plays a vital role in ensuring food security: it produces maize meal, a staple food for the majority of the South African population.

Milling: Maize

The maize kernel is processed by the Wet and Dry Milling Industries.

  • Wet milling is a process carried out in water during which pure starch is obtained from maize. After the steeping process of 36 hours the kernel can easily be separated into its various components, namely the husk, starch, gluten and the germ.
  • From the starch, food technologists create foodstuffs such as puddings, gravies, sauces and pie fillings. The starch pastes from maize can be allowed to cool, thicken and congeal into a gel that provides starch-based puddings, salad creams and some adhesives. The starch paste also has industrial uses for paper coating and sizing, textile sizing, the manufacture of corrugated boards and adhesives.
  • The gluten and the germ that are obtained from the wet milling process are used in the manufacture of maize oil and animal feed supplements. The maize oil can be used in cooking, where its high smoke point makes it valuable frying oil. It is also a key ingredient in some margarine. Maize oil is also used as one source of bio-diesel. Other industrial uses for maize oil include soap, salve, paint, rust proofing for metal surfaces, inks, textiles, and insecticides. It is sometimes used as a carrier for drug molecules in pharmaceutical preparations.
  • During the dry milling process the maize kernels are refined to maize meal. Products that are derived from here are samp; maize grits; maize rice; and unsifted, sifted, coarse, super and special maize meal.
Sources: A Profile of the South African Maize Market Value Chain at www.dalrrd.gov.za. 

Milling: Wheat

Wheat is delivered to milling companies who mill the wheat into wheat flour, meal and bran that are used in three different ways:

  • The wheat flour can be used in the baking industry to manufacture perishable products such as pan loaves, rolls, buns, confectionery products and other products such as frozen dough and par baked products.
  • Wheat based goods products such as biscuits, pasta, crackers and breakfast cereals can also be manufactured from the wheat flour.
  • The animal feed manufacturing industry also uses the wheat meal and bran to manufacture farm feeds and pet foods.
Source: A Profile of the South African Wheat Market Value Chain at www.dalrrd.gov.za 

National strategy and government contact

Milling features prominently in the government’s Agri-parks strategy (see separate chapter). It has also seen initiatives from provincial investment bodies like the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA).

  • Find the Food Safety and Quality Assurance pages under the “Branches” option at www.dalrrd.gov.za, website of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).
  • Read about the required fortification mixes for wheat flour and maize meal at https://foodfacts.org.za/food-fortification.

Associations involved

  • The National Chamber of Milling (NCM) Tel: 012 663 1660 www.grainmilling.org.za The National Chamber of Milling promotes, encourages and assists in the common interest of the milling industry in South Africa. It is a trade association which represents the interests of the South African wheat flour and maize milling industry.
  • Cereal Science and Technology – SA (CST – SA) www.cerealsa.co.za
  • Find details of numerous organisations in the “Grain & oilseeds” chapter.

Training and research

  • The Animal Feeds Manufacturing Association (AFMA) has embarked on a process to establish a training feed mill at the University of Pretoria (UP) at Onderstepoort.
  • SA Grain Milling Academy (SAGMA) Tel: 012 663 1660 www.sagma.co.za The Grain Milling Federation offers theoretical training through correspondence courses for wheat and maize milling technology. It administers the practical trade test for would-be millers, and is also responsible for the advanced course. Tutorial assistance and technical consulting services are part of the Grain Milling Federation’s functions. All course information can be found at www.sagma.co.za.
  • Southern African Grain Laboratory (SAGL) Tel: 012 807 4019 www.sagl.co.za The SAGL is a quality analyses laboratory and has ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. They offer a variety of quality analyses on grains and oilseeds. National information is published on the website. They provide ring tests and give laboratory training and are being recognised as the grain analyses reference laboratory in Southern Africa. They are also responsible for a national crop quality survey for wheat and maize. The SAGL provide courses in laboratory training for both wheat (flour) and maize (meal) analyses. They offer a one-day hands-on course for the most imported analyses and a four-day practical course for all the different analyses done for quality control including a lecture on Good Laboratory Practices and Accreditation. Special course requests will be gladly accommodated.
  • View the AgriSETA-accredited National Certificate: Grain Milling at www.agriseta.co.za. Another Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) relevant to this chapter is FoodBev. Their chamber relevant to this chapter is the Baking, Cereals, Confectionary and Snacks Chamber one. Visit www.foodbev.co.za.
  • The National Chamber of Milling is responsible for identifying and ensuring that research projects relevant to the industry are carried out.


Websites and publications

In addition to the websites listed in this chapter, the following will also be of interest:

International websites will include:

  • International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM)www.iaom.info
  • International Association of Operative Millers – Mideast Africa (IAOM-MEA), www.iaom-mea.com
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), www.cimmyt.org
  • International Centre for Agricultural for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), www.icarda.org
  • An international grain and grain-processing information site, www.world-grain.com

Find the latest annual A Profile of the South African Maize Market Value Chain and A Profile of the South African Maize Market Value Chain on the Directorate Marketing’s web pages at www.dalrrd.gov.za.

The SADC Secretariat and German Development Corporation‘s Profiling of the Regional Agro-Processing Value Chains in the SADC Region (March 2019) includes a look at wheat and maize.

For maize related research documents and projects, contact the Maize Trust at 012 807 3958. For wheat related research documents and projects, contact the Winter Cereal Trust. Visit www.wintercerealtrust.co.za or call 012 007 1200.

Find the miller’s preference list of preferred wheat cultivars list on the ARC-Small Grains (ARC-SG) web pages at www.arc.agric.za.

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