USGC mission investigates DDGS potential in Ireland, UK

By U.S. Grains Council | April 09, 2019

The U.S. Grains Council is preparing to help buyers and end-users in Ireland and the United Kingdom learn how dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) can help meet their feed demand needs while adjusting to market conditions and a new trade environment.

“The Council has the opportunity to continue to maintain market share in Ireland and capture newly opened market share in the United Kingdom,” said Reece Cannady, USGC manager of global trade, who led a discovery mission to both countries in March. “By gaining a better understanding of market forces and influences at play, the Council can design future programming with more precise targeting.”

Ireland is a consistent buyer of U.S. DDGS, utilizing just under 400,000 metric tons in 2018. Experienced buyers and end-users buy U.S. DDGS to feed Ireland’s ruminants, including the large dairy and sheep industries.

“Export to Ireland regularly happens without a hitch, as the Irish Grain and Feed Association worked with the Council to establish testing protocols that take place in the United States prior to export,” Cannady said. “The Council would like to reinforce and maintain the Irish market while continuing supportive relationships with trade partners.”

The USGC team wanted to determine if other markets are under-utilizing the feed ingredient. After visiting with IGFA and area importers, the team determined the swine industry is not using DDGS, providing opportunities for the Council to answer questions related to nutrition and encouraging inclusion of the U.S. feed ingredient in rations. New demand from the Irish swine sector could mean up to 350,000 tons in additional exports of U.S. DDGS.

Ireland will be heavily affected by the Brexit deal as the only country that shares a land barrier with the United Kingdom. The two countries currently have uninhibited trade routes; agricultural products from Ireland commonly go from barge or ferry in Dublin over to Liverpool and then are trucked through the Chunnel under the English Channel for distribution to the rest of Europe. Routing goods by boat to avoid the United Kingdom will increase transit time and costs.

Across the pond, the United Kingdom is not a regular buyer of U.S. DDGS, but the country did hit a five-year high for imports in 2018 at 275,000 tons. English end-users do use wheat-based DDGS from local ethanol plants, but two of those ethanol plants closed in 2018. While one plant has since reopened, a demand gap of 500,000 to 600,000 tons of DDGS presents an opportunity for U.S. exports, especially as a drought in Europe has pushed prices for local alternative local feedstocks higher.

The Council will use the information gained during this discovery mission to guide further market development work in Ireland and the United Kingdom to help not just identify this additional potential demand, but capture it for U.S. DDGS.