From November 12th to 15th, the bustling streets of Cairo, Egypt, transformed into a hub of knowledge and innovation as the prestigious IAOM MEA Conference and Expo 2023 unfolded. 

 Organized by the International Association of Operative Millers Middle East & Africa (IAOM MEA), with Taj Flour Mills serving as the Local Host, this event served as a pivotal platform for global industry leaders, experts, and enthusiasts to convene and delve into the intricacies of grain processing and milling. 

The event attracted over hundreds of delegates from approximately 50 countries, showcasing the truly international reach and impact of the IAOM MEA organization.  

Around 100 exhibiting companies filled the expo floor, presenting cutting-edge technologies, equipment, and services that are shaping the future of the grain processing industry. 

This review delves deeper into the events that transpired during the three days in Cairo, offering a glimpse into the groundbreaking discussions, thought-provoking presentations, and the unparalleled networking opportunities that were the hallmark of the IAOM MEA Conference and Expo 2023 

Warm Egyptian hospitality sets the stage for success 

As is customary with all IAOM MEA events, attendees were welcomed to Egypt on Sunday, November 12 with a spectacular welcome reception at the iconic Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski hotel. This elegant setting provided the perfect backdrop for guests to sample the rich and diverse cuisines that Egypt has to offer, while forging new connections and friendships with fellow industry professionals. This warm Egyptian hospitality set the tone for the event, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration that permeated throughout the three days. 

Day One Panel Highlights Effective Mill Wheat Pricing Strategies 

 Starting Monday, November 13, the three-day conference and expo featured a diverse and informative program, encompassing a wide range of topics relevant to all aspects of the grain processing and milling value chain. Sessions covered vital areas such as Management, Technical/What’s New, Feed Milling Technology & Trends, and Trading. Renowned speakers from both international and national domains delivered insightful presentations, sharing their expertise and perspectives on the latest advancements and challenges facing the industry. 

The first day of the IAOM MEA Conference and Expo 2023 kicked off with a critical panel discussion: “Managing Risk: Beyond Wheat – Currency and Geopolitics.” As global wheat prices fluctuate amidst geopolitical tensions and currency volatility, the discussion explored strategies for mills to navigate this complex landscape. 

 Renowned experts from diverse backgrounds graced the panel: Ahmed Hammouda, CEO of Astra Group (Egypt), Eduard Zernin, Chairman of RUSGRAIN UNION (Russia), Oga Venkat, Manager – Middle East & Africa Desk at Cargill International SA (Switzerland), and Pieter Defoor, Marketing Manager Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Viterra (Netherlands). Each brought their unique insights, spanning regional market expertise, risk management strategies, and global supply chain analysis. 


Moderated by Indrek Aigro, Head of Grains at Copenhagen Merchants (Denmark), the discussion delved into practical strategies for millers. Aigro’s skillful moderation ensured a balanced and engaging exchange, allowing each speaker to share their perspectives and foster insightful debate. 

 This dynamic panel discussion set the tone for the conference, emphasizing the crucial role of effective risk management in today’s volatile wheat market. It provided valuable insights for millers seeking to navigate uncertainties and ensure sustainable operations in the long run. 

Adding more value to flour 

Following the panel discussion were presentations on how millers can boost efficiency, optimize product quality, and unlock new business opportunities. Dr. Lutz Popper, renowned enzyme expert from Mühlenchemie GmbH & Co. KG (Germany), kicked off the session. His presentation explored how strategic enzyme use can unlock hidden potential within flour, enhancing baking properties, improving yields, and ultimately reducing costs for mills.  

Mariam Al-Hazaa, Business Development Manager of Al-Hazaa Investment Group (Jordan), took the stage next. Drawing on her extensive experience, she shared practical insights on how millers can unlock value from integrated milling operations.  

Closing out the day with, Andreas Hummel, Director of Termico (Germany), and Sunil Maheshwari, Vice President Specialty of Siemer Milling Company (USA), presented complementary approaches to heat treatment. Hummel shed light on innovative solutions for optimizing heat treatment, while Maheshwari shared his expertise in implementing effective heat treatment strategies for flour quality and hygiene. 


Global Wheat Markets: Insights from Key Regions 

Day Two of the IAOM MEA Conference and Expo 2023 kicked off with a crucial session diving into the diverse landscapes of global wheat markets. Renowned experts from key producing regions shared their insights, equipping millers with the knowledge to navigate evolving trends and make informed business decisions. 

Roland Guiragossian, Algeria & Middle East Manager for Intercereales (Egypt), kicked off the session with a deep dive into the French market. He explored current production dynamics, export opportunities, and potential challenges affecting this crucial wheat source. 

Next, Ian Flagg, Regional Vice President of U.S. Wheat Associates (Netherlands), took the stage. He provided a comprehensive overview of the US market, analyzing recent yield figures, trade policies, and their impact on global wheat availability. 

The session then headed south with Olivier Bougamont, Senior Wheat and Barley Trader at Cargill International SA (Switzerland), offering his expertise on the Australian market. He delved into the impact of weather patterns, domestic demand, and international trade agreements on Australian wheat production and exports. 

Concluding the session, Indrek Aigro, Head of Grains at Copenhagen Merchants (Denmark), shared his insights on the crucial Black Sea market. He analyzed the geopolitical landscape, production forecasts, and export dynamics that shape this major influencer on global wheat prices. 

Day Two continued the momentum with a focus on cutting-edge technologies designed to boost efficiency and quality in animal feed production. 

Chadi El Halabi, a seasoned engineer at Bühler, unveiled their revolutionary Pelletring Pro technology. This game-changer slashes energy consumption while guaranteeing consistent, high-quality pellets for optimal animal nutrition. Lu’ay Alhajaj, Head of Sales for Haver & Boecker/ Behn+Bates, shared their innovative approach to bagging. He explored how their system seamlessly combines open mouth bags with valve bag filling, streamlining the process and minimizing dust and spillage. 

Next level milling innovations 

Day Two hosted a special session showcasing game-changing technologies poised to propel the milling industry forward. 

Malcolm Holman of Brabender shared his company’s revolutionary quality assurance solution takes the guesswork out of whole meal flours, ensuring consistent taste and texture for delighted consumers., while Nicolas Sulblé from AIT Ingredients armed millers with solutions to conquer inconsistent wheat and guarantee consistent flour performance. 

Andrea Nicolini of Cesco unveiled a revolutionary design that seamlessly integrates silos and structures for optimized process buildings, while Eng. Andrea Nardo of Mulmix S.R.L. shed light on the latest advancements in industrial and port cereal storage. 

Sassan Khaladjnia of Bühler showcased their cutting-edge grain monitoring solution, while Renato Dall’Agata of Fava shared his tips on conducting research that leads to groundbreaking results.  

Peio Touyarou of Eurogerm  highlight his company’s diverse pasta solutions, and Tobias Diener of Agromatic AG enlightened millers on the art of safe and efficient grain storage. Finally, Pietro Barbalarga of Omas Industries captivated the audience with his flour extraction booster technology, promising unprecedented yield gains. Ashok Sarkar, Senior Advisor at Cereals Canada, led a fascinating exploration of roller milling and pre-treatments in pulse flour processing. His knowledge shed light on using technology to unlock the full potential of these nutrient-rich flours. 

Efficiency Engineered – A Deep Dive into Milling Machinery and Automation 

Day Three of the conference shifted gears, delving into the heart of milling operations: machinery and optimization. From roller mill advancements to automation solutions, the day’s presentations promised to equip millers with the tools to reach new heights of efficiency and profitability. 

André Kunadt, Head of Technology at Bühler, kicked off the session by unlocking the secrets of next-level roller mill performance. His insights offered millers a roadmap to squeeze every ounce of efficiency from their existing equipment. Mehmet Yilmaz, Area Sales Manager for Alapala Africa, followed suit with a dazzling showcase of their 14 groundbreaking milling systems. Each innovation promised to tackle specific challenges and redefine milling possibilities. 

Önder Şeker, Marketing Manager at Imas, took the stage to champion the power of polymer base construction for roller mills. He explored how this innovative approach translates to unparalleled reliability and extended durability, minimizing downtime and boosting productivity. 

Stepping outside the machinery realm, Vivian Iroanya of S&P Global Commodity Insights offered invaluable insights into price trends and market relationships. Her expertise equipped millers with the knowledge to navigate market fluctuations and make informed decisions. 

Issam Baydoun, Field Sales Manager at Premier Tech Systems and Automation, brought the day to a resounding close with a focus on the future. His presentation showcased cutting-edge weighing, bagging, palletizing, and securing lines, painting a picture of a seamlessly automated milling operation. 

Unleashing the power of ERP 

Day Three delved into the critical realm of ERP and digitalization, equipping millers with the knowledge to navigate the future of their operations. Abdulla Fatayer, Consulting Manager at ABS, started the conversation by demystifying ERP and digitalization. He shed light on their potential to streamline operations, boost efficiency, and unlock new avenues for profitability, while also acknowledging the risks and considerations involved. 

Javier Lozano Díaz, Product Manager at Bühler, took the stage next. He showcased Bühler’s cutting-edge ERP solutions, demonstrating how their integration can drive tangible progress in milling operations, from enhanced data management to optimized production processes. 

The day reached its peak with a dynamic panel discussion titled “ERP and Digitalization – How Millers Can Benefit?” Moderated by industry veteran Martin Ellegast, CEO of Advactory AG, the session brought together a diverse group of experts: Ibrahim Al-Hazaa, Executive Director of Al-Hazaa Investment Group; Abdulla Fatayer; Javier Lozano Díaz; and Faradjallah Ndagano, Corporate Manager of Bakhresa Grain Milling. The panelists dissected the challenges and opportunities of ERP implementation, sharing practical tips, real-world examples, and valuable insights that not only answered pressing questions but also sparked a deeper understanding of the immense potential digitalization holds for the future of milling. 

Experiencing Egypt 

Beyond the bustling conference and expo, IAOM curated two unforgettable dinners for participants to dive into the heart of Egypt’s rich culture.  On Monday evening, attendees had the chance to experience the Pyramids Sound & Light, a multimedia spectacle that brings the ancient history of the pharaohs and their pyramids to life. The iconic pyramids of Giza, Khafre, and Menkaure were illuminated with vibrant colors and projected images, giving all present an awe-inspiring visual feast. The dinner was further enhanced by a dramatic soundtrack that blends traditional Egyptian music with modern orchestral elements. A second dinner was arranged on day courtesy of the local host, Taj Flour Mills with participants having another bite of delicious Egyptian cuisines.  

These carefully curated events were more than mere sideshows; they were the threads that wove together the IAOM experience. They offered a chance to step outside the conference space, to connect with the local community, and to create lasting memories of Egypt’s unique charm. It is this commitment to providing a holistic experience, beyond the diverse innovations and insightful presentations, that solidifies IAOM’s position as a must-attend event for anyone in the region’s flour milling industry. 

We are proud to have been the official media partner for this premier event in the region. We look forward to joining you again next year in Dubai for the 34th edition of the IAOM Middle East & Africa Conference and Expo! 

This feature appeared in ISSUE 7 of MILLING MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA MAGAZINE. You can read this and the entire magazine HERE