(Reuters) - Corn is sometimes referred to as “yellow gold” because it is used to make so many products and byproducts that end up throughout the economy from food store shelves to gas pumps to industrial chemical plants.
Key facts about corn processing and consumption:
* The processing of corn starts with the kernel -- there are usually 200-400 kernels on every corn cob harvested in the United States.
* During the wet milling process the outer part of the kernel is removed and used to make animal feed.
* The seed tip is removed to produce corn oil.
* Endosperm - the carbohydrate rich, starchy bulk of the corn kernel - is the raw material for fermentation and transformation into a sugary referred to as “the dextrose stream.”
* The United States produces 40 percent of the world’s corn supplies and accounts for more than half of world corn exports.
* About 85 percent of the 2010 U.S. corn crop of 13 billion bushels at 56 lbs per bushel will be used for food, animal feed and a myriad of industrial product uses.
Breakdown of corn’s major uses:
* Food products -- Cereals, snack foods, salad dressings, soft drink sweeteners, chewing gum, peanut butter, hominy grits, taco shells and other flour products, specialty corn including white corn, blue corn and popcorn .
* Animal feeds -- Distiller’s dried grain, gluten feed and meal, high-oil feed corn for cattle, swine, poultry and fish.
* Industrial products -- Soaps, paints, corks, linoleum, polish, adhesives, rubber substitutes, wallboard, dry-cell batteries, textile finishings, cosmetic powders, candles, dyes, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, insulation, wallpaper and other starch products.
* Fermentation products and byproducts -- industrial alcohols, fuel ethanol, recyclable plastics, industrial enzymes, fuel octane enhancers, fuel oxygenates and solvents.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Corn Growers Association
Editing by Alden Bentley