A rising star

20.09.2006 The Buhler Rice Milling business unit enjoys an excellent international reputation as a supplier of state-of-the-art, industrial-scale rice processing plants. As industrialization makes progress in Asia, the rice milling experts at Buhler identify outstanding market opportunities. The Rice Milling business unit is not one of the largest at Buhler. But the lean unit, which is part of the Grain Processing division, is considered to be a promising branch of the Buhler Group. Markus Fraefel, who has headed the Rice Milling business unit since 2003: “Rice milling can look back upon a long tradition at Buhler. With years of accumulated experience in rice processing and the cutting-edge research being conducted at Buhler, we are now using our force to develop innovative products and increase our market penetration. Rice Milling is a rising star in the Buhler Group.” At the headquarters of the business unit in Braunschweig, a staff of 22 are dedicated to this effort, and in the Buhler affiliates in the world’s major rice markets, some 40 additional people are working toward the unit’s success.

Close ties with customers
Rice is one of the most important staple foods of humanity. More than half of the global population lives to a large extent on the staple food rice. However, this “half” is located mainly in Asia, where 550 of the total of 602 million metric tons of rice harvested in 2004 come from. In line with these needs for industrialization in Asia, the Rice Milling business unit is setting its sights on precisely this continent. At the headquarters in Braunschweig, we have the centralized services and the development, technology, and engineering functions. “The rest of our Rice team works at the Buhler bases in the major markets,” says Markus Fraefel of the proven sales organization. “We have large teams and centers of competence in India, China, and now also in Southeast Asia, and we are also present in the U.S.A., South America, Central America, Spain, and Italy, which are supported out of Braunschweig.” This direct presence in the main rice markets allows the Rice specialists from Buhler to maintain very close ties with customers. Markus Fraefel: “For us, it is very important to feel the pulse of the marketplace in order to respond rapidly and effectively to our customers’ needs.”

Market leader in India
The major rice producing countries are China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. China (187 million metric tons) and India (124 million tons) alone accounted for half of the total global crop of 602 million tons of paddy (rough rice) in the year 2004. Rice processing (drying, cleaning, hulling, whitening) is still a predominantly agricultural activity.Markus Fraefel: “Worldwide, only five percent of all rice processing operations are industrialized. The potential for industrialization is large. In India alone, there are still over 40.000 small commercial rice processors with capacities of few hundred kilograms per hour.” Here, concentration into larger operating units is expected. The presence of the Buhler Rice Milling business unit is not equal in all rice producing countries. In India, where number of regional sales offices work the market, Buhler has an excellent position. In the Indian industrialized rice processing market, Buhler holds a share of 25 percent and is thus the market leader. Business in China is being developed, and the trend is encouraging. But also in Japan, the home of our most powerful competitor, you will find state-of-the-art Buhler mills based on novel approaches to processing.

Excellent reputation
The industrialization of rice processing is making rapid headway. This is generating an important market potential, and Buhler is determined to get an increasingly large piece of this pie. Chances are good, for the rice millers from Buhler are meeting with success in the global marketplace and therefore enjoy an excellent reputation. “Our equipment reflects the absolute state of the art,” explains Fraefel. “It offers our customers the best basis for highly efficient processing of paddy rice. “In addition,” says Fraefel, “our systems are suitable for processing all rice varieties. Moreover, with our in-house engineering services, we offer an optimal foundation for designing customized plant layouts and ensuring high process reliability of complete installations.”

Broad range of products
The specialists from Buhler design and construct tailor-made rice processing systems. From the reception (intake) and storage of the paddy to precleaning and the various whitening and polishing stages plus packaging in different volumes, we can tailor all process operations to specific customer requirements and the raw material in question. In addition, the tried-and-true hardware and software from Buhler allows control and monitoring of all processes from beginning to end. This guarantees a consistent and controlled quality of the end products. Buhler builds rice processing installations with capacities ranging from 2 metric tons to 120 tons per hour. Beside rice milling, which accounts for about 85 percent of total sales of the business unit, the Buhler rice specialists are also active in the fields of rice grinding and the processing of pulses such as beans and lentils.

Great opportunity
“The rise in demand for high-quality rice is continuing throughout the world. This means that new rice processing installations will be built and new technologies will be developed. But is also implies that rice processing will move from rural to urban areas, from small countryside operations to industrial plants located in cities. To ensure economic production, they need plants equipped with state-ofthe- art technology. For Buhler, this is a great opportunity to further develop the Rice Milling business unit.”

Markus Fraefel heads a dedicated team. Markus Fraefel heads a dedicated team.