BEIJING, CHINA — China has launched an anti-dumping probe into U.S. distiller’s dried grains (DDGS), China’s Ministry of Commerce announced on Dec 28.

DDGS, a co-product of ethanol production, is used in animal feed as a substitute for corn (maize) and soy. China is the world’s largest importer with more than 2.9 million tonnes imported from January to November, a 542% increase from the same time period in 2009. The value of those imports — $695 million for that time period — is up 650%.

The Commerce Ministry said it is investigating how much damage the alleged dumping of DDGS had caused to China's own industry from Jan. 1, 2007, to June 30, 2010. China produces about 3.5 million tonnes of DDGS per year.

Four Chinese companies, including Anhui BBCA Biochemical Co. Ltd. and Jilin Fuel Alcohol Co Ltd, have requested the investigation into imported DDGS, the ministry said in the statement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates U.S. DDGS production will reach 34.6 million tonnes in the 12 months ending August 2011. That compares to 10.4 million tonnes in 2005-06.

Overall U.S. exports are expected to grow to 30% of total consumption, the USDA said.