CIGI milling department leader bridges language gap

It’s easier to talk to customers when you speak their language.

That doesn’t just mean being able to speak Spanish to Latin American flour millers, but also the ability to discuss and respond to the conditions unique to that region.

That’s something Juan-Carlos Arriola Lopez thinks he brings to the Canadian International Grains Institute in his role as head of the milling department.

“Now it’s a completely different relationship,” said Arriola in an interview at CIGI, where he has been working since September 2015.

“We didn’t have every year a visit from Canada. We knew the quality of the wheat, but we didn’t feel important to (Canada.)”

Arriola is from Guatemala and for 13 years worked for a Latin American milling company, which operates five mills in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

He, like many in the small global community of professional millers, received training from milling equipment manufacturer Buhler in Switzerland, and once while there he heard about CIGI.

He was told it was a great institution and would be a good place to work. So when the milling department position became available, he applied.

“I thought: That’s a challenge…. Here I am.”

Arriola deals with millers from around the globe, but pays special attention to Latin Americans. He is still a member of their milling associations and organizations.

Latin American mills about 48 million tonnes of grain per year — a large market worth the added attention, he said.

“These customers are very close and they can be very loyal.”

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