Maize is the world’s third largest planted crop, after wheat and rice. It is a cereal crop that is grown widely throughout the world in a range of agro-ecological environments. More maize is produced annually than any other grain. In developed countries, maize is consumed mainly as second-cycle produce, in the form of meat, eggs and dairy products. In developing countries, maize is consumed directly, and serves as staple diet for some 200 million people. Most people regard maize as a breakfast cereal.
World demand for maize is projected to increase rapidly in the coming years. Higher demand for animal feed and industrial use are the main drivers of this increase, whereas the overall per capita growth in food consumption of maize is unlikely to change significantly, even in Africa, where white maize is an integral part of local diets in several countries. Large parts of the global maize supply continue to be used in the livestock sectors, and favourable prospects for economic growth will provide a further boost to shifts in dietary preferences towards protein-based food, resulting in even greater demand for all feed grains, including maize. However, it is the brisk demand for the industrial use of maize, namely ethanol that represents the most significant emerging source of additional demand for maize in the coming decade.