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  • 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.
  • 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 

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 

National strategy and government contact

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

Role players

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National Chamber of Milling (NCM) – The National Chamber of Milling is a trade association which represents the interests of the South African wheat flour and maize milling industry.

AgriSETA – AgriSETA accredited trainers provide training in grain milling.
FoodBev SETA – FoodBev is the Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) responsible for facilitating education and training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector. Find a list of accredited training providers on the website.
South African Grain Milling Academy (SAGMA) – The National Chamber of Milling 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 National Chamber of Milling’s functions. All course information can be found on
Grain Training Institute – Grain grading, grain silo operator, fumigation courses. Specialised services are also offered.

Further reference:

Training and research

Websites and publications

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


International websites will include:

  • International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) –
  • International Association of Operative Millers – Mideast Africa (IAOM-MEA)
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
  • International Centre for Agricultural for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • An international grain and grain-processing information site,


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  at

For maize related research documents and projects, contact the Maize Trust. For wheat related research documents and projects, contact the Winter Cereal Trust. Visit and

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

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.

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