Agribusiness opportunities explored at Export Exchange 2016

by Eric Schroeder
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Export Exchange
Event being held Oct. 24-26 in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
 
DETROIT, MICHIGAN, U.S. — A discussion on agribusiness opportunities available throughout the world highlighted the Export Exchange 2016 conference being held Oct. 24-26 in Detroit.

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Export Exchange 2016 offers attendees an opportunity to meet and build relationships with domestic suppliers of corn, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), sorghum, barley and other commodities. More than 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products from more than 35 countries are in attendance at the conference.

In his keynote presentation on Oct. 25, Christopher Nolan Sr., managing director and co-head of food, beverage and agribusiness coverage at PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance LLC, described a marketplace where a number of forces are affecting agribusiness. Those factors include technology convergence, population growth, sustainability and food security.

“Evolving technology in agriculture will continue,” Nolan said. “Resourceful farmers will continue to find ways to utilize technology to increase yield and reduce costs.”

He added that agribusiness is a global business and will continue to remain one.

Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive officer of the RFA, in a separate presentation weighed in on the upcoming U.S. presidential election and its potential impact on trade.

“No matter who wins the presidential election on Nov. 8, trade is too important to our consumers, our agricultural system and our entire economy to be relegated to the kind of hyperbolic, overblown and ultimately counterproductive political rhetoric that has beset the campaigns in recent months,” Dinneen said. “Despite that rhetoric, we believe free and fair trade, and trade pacts, are going to continue to play an important role in our agricultural economy.”

During the first general session of the conference, the state of agriculture exports was addressed by Chip Councell, chairman of the USGC, and a farmer in Maryland.

“The U.S. is set to produce record crops of 384 million metric tonnes in 2016,” he said. “Of that, we expect to export 55 million metric tonnes of corn — another record. These numbers just go to demonstrate the productivity of our industry. With feed grain prices expected to remain competitive over the near term, there is no better opportunity than now to invest in expanded livestock production. We, U.S. farmers, encourage our foreign customers to invest in the future and use this abundance of feed grains to expand their capacity for grain use — with livestock, in ethanol and beyond.”

Geoff Cooper, senior vice-president of the RFA, provided an outlook of the U.S. ethanol industry co-product exports, with a focus on DDGS.

“We expect to see continued modest growth in U.S. distiller’s grains and corn gluten supplies, as ethanol production continues slow expansion,” Cooper said.

He said that over the last 10 years, there has been dramatic growth in exports to Asian markets, particularly to China. However, DDGS exports to China have been highly volatile since 2008, he noted, while exports to other regions such as Mexico, Thailand and Turkey are steady or expanding.
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