IDGC: DDGS exports likely to expand

By Erin Voegele | October 06, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 23, 2008 at 1:08 a.m. CST

While Mexico is expected to continue being the largest importer of U.S. distillers grains, a variety of other countries are likely to become increasingly important as well. During the final day of the 2008 International Distillers Grains Conference and Trade Show held in Indianapolis on Oct. 19-21, participants and conference speakers focused on the importance of foreign markets in the distillers grains industry.

Several conference speakers said to help facilitate the use of distillers grains in their countries the livestock industry must be educated about the product and added that it's important that ethanol producers help resolve concerns over safety. One simple way to do this is to routinely test distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) for mycotoxin levels and share the findings with potential customers. In order to expand DDGS usage, the conference speakers agreed that it's imperative for ethanol producers to ensure they are delivering a consistent product, and that it matches the parameters of the purchased product.

"I think to maintain the growth and demand that we are seeing and to increase distillers grains utilization, we need better information from the (ethanol) plants, we need better traceability, and we need better flow of analytical information," said Neil Campbell, Gowans Feed Consulting's manager of business development who spoke about the Canadian DDGS market during the IDGC. The U.S. Grains Council is taking a primary role in DDGS research and in educating foreign countries about the potential for distillers grains usage in livestock feed.

A National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center study of 20 U.S. DDGS samples found that any detectable mycotoxins levels were below the tolerable guidelines for use in animal feeds, according to John Caupert, director of the NCERC. Furthermore, Caupert said the fact that mycotoxins may be detected has no relationship with their toxicity in any animal species. "I'm convinced that the U.S. ethanol industry is not getting the credit it deserves for screening inbound corn and being keenly aware of the feedstock - the corn - that is coming into their materials," Caupert said.

While a number of factors are expected to impact the demand for U.S. DDGS in foreign countries, most conference speakers drew attention to the current economic crisis and the recent rebound in the strength of the U.S. dollar. A stronger dollar will make it more expensive for those in other markets to purchase and import DDGS from U.S. ethanol producers. During his closing remarks, Erick Erickson, U.S. Grains Council's special assistant to the president for planning, evaluation and projects, said the value of DDGS is local. It depends on where the customer lives and the relative price of alternative available feed ingredients in those local areas. "DDGS replaces protein and energy ingredients differently in different place," Erickson said. "The experience of one country needs to be adapted very carefully to others."

The 2008 International Distillers Grains Conference and Trade Show was attended by more than 500 attendees, including more than 140 potential foreign DDGS purchasers, nutritionists and feed ingredient importers.