Through a series of operating committees of executives from corn refining firms, the association conducts programs of technical service, public relations, and government relations for the association membership. The association is a primary source of educational material on corn and products from corn for schools, government, journalists, agriculture, and agribusiness.

The History of Corn Refining

  1. In 1844, the Wm. Colgate & Company wheat starch plant in Jersey City, N.J., became the first dedicated corn starch plant in the world. By 1857, the corn starch industry reached significant proportions in the U.S. Starch was the only product of the corn refining industry. Its largest customer was the laundry business. The next major event in the history of corn refining was the production of dextrose from corn starch in 1866

  2. In 1921, crystalline dextrose hydrate was introduced. Then in the mid-1950’s, the technology for commercially preparing low conversion products such as maltodextrin and low DE syrups was developed. The purification and crystallization of dextrose meant for the first time that corn based sweeteners could compete in some markets that had been the sole domain of the sugar industry. The next developments involved enzyme catalyzed isomerization of dextrose to fructose. The first commercial shipment of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) took place in 1967.

  3. In the 1930s, the group was renamed the Corn Industries Research Foundation recognizing the major contribution being made by the group to development of starch chemistry and technology.

  4. In 1966, the group was renamed the Corn Refiners Association reflecting the broad diversity of products produced by the industry. As the organization celebrates its 100th anniversary, it is a time to reflect on the legacy of the corn wet milling industry. Many hard-working, imaginative, innovative individuals helped build the industry — developing and perfecting products made from corn — transforming it into starches, sweeteners, fuel alcohol, oil, and bioproducts with a growing range of end uses.

  5. The fructose content of the syrup was around 15 percent. Further research enabled the industry to develop a higher conversion and the first commercial shipment of HFCS-42 or 42 percent fructose syrup took place a year later. Further refinements in the process were developed in the late 1970’s and by the mid 1980’s, high fructose corn syrup became the sweetener of choice for the soft drink industry in the U.S. The production of ethanol by corn refiners began after World War II, but major quantities were not manufactured until the 1970’s.


John Bode

President & CEO

Christina Martin

Executive Vice President

Shannon Marshall

Director, Member Services

Cassandra Kuball

Director, Trade & Industry Affairs

Julia Gustafson

Counsel & Director, Legislative Affairs

Kailee M. Tkacz, CAE

Director, Food Policy

Dianne 'DD' Douglass

Director, Operations

Ben Gruitt

Director, Sustainability & Advanced Bioproducts

Keniece Barbee

Special Assistant to the President & CEO

Kyle Harris

Environmental Affairs / Workplace Safety Manager

Over the last two years CRA has supported the following organizations:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • American Association for Clinical Chemistry
  • American College of Lifestyle Medicine
  • American Society of Association Executives
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • American Soybean Association
  • Bryce Harlow Foundation
  • Congressional Hunger Center
  • Democratic Governors Association
  • Field to Market
  • Food Industry Environmental Network
  • Food Research & Action Center
  • Friends of the National Arboretum
  • Global Child Nutrition Foundation
  • Governors Biofuels Coalition
  • Institute of Food Technologists
  • International Dairy Foods Association
  • International Food Information Council
  • International Society for Beverage Technologists
  • Michigan State University
  • National Corn Growers Association
  • National Association of Business Political Action Committees
  • National Association of Farm Broadcasters
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • National Association of Wheat Growers
  • National Council of State Legislatures
  • Public Affairs Council
  • Republican Agriculture Commissioners Committee
  • Republican Governors Association
  • Starch Round Table University of Illinois
  • Sustainability Leadership Forum
  • The Mercatus Center at George Mason University
  • U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance
  • United States Chamber of Commerce
  • U.S. Grains Council
  • University of Minnesota
  • Washington Legal Foundation
  • Washington International Trade Association
  • Women in Government Relations