(Posted Mon. Dec 3rd, 2012)
Dec. 3: The U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, demonstrated the importance of relationship-building during the recent Export Exchange 2012 in Minneapolis, Minn. The conference, which brought together a variety of groups including foreign feed millers and U.S. corn and ethanol coproduct providers, helped foster sales of feed ingredient distiller’s dried grains with solubles for years to come.
"The U.S. Grains Council has been able to identify the key people and put them all together," said Sebastien Lavoie of Agri-Marche at Export Exchange. "It's a big world but it's a small one when you concentrate all the key players together, and that's a tough job to do, to open doors like that."
Agri-Marche, based in Quebec, Canada, operates five feed mills and a loading facility for all ingredients the company distributes throughout eastern Canada, from Ontario to Newfoundland.
Lavoie said when he first came to Export Exchange in 2010, he was curious about U.S. distillers grains. The conference showed him their potential and let him investigate suppliers, shipping options and more, with the Council providing contacts that could help. The opportunities presented at this year's Export Exchange helped build strong relationships with suppliers.
"It results in consistent and sustainable business, which has been a win-win combination for all of us," said Lavoie.
While Lavoie learned about changes to the U.S. distillers grains market, he also provides a buyer's perspective to many ethanol plants and suppliers through contacts made at Export Exchange. The shift to low-oil, high protein distillers grains is changing buyers' calculations. Lavoie said some plants have contacted him directly as they change their processes so he can provide feedback on the impact of the change on the value of distillers grains to end-users. At the same time, he said there are different feed ingredients commonly used in Canada that are not used in the United States, and having research on DDGS presented in one place – Export Exchange – is very helpful.
Much of that type of research has been conducted in Canada with the help of Neil Campbell, a USGC consultant. Campbell said the Council provided seed money several years ago that was matched several times over by funding sources in Canada. That research led to developing inclusion rates that work with different feed ingredients used in Canada. Additional work supported by the Council involves low-oil distillers grains and is ongoing.
Lavoie stressed that, since the U.S. distillers grains market is a continually changing market, access to the latest information and opportunities to interact with others in the industry at meetings such as Export Exchange is important.