WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — During a recent mission to Libya with the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) said on May 17 it has uncovered a major untapped ruminant market with potential for new U.S. sales of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). In addition, the Libyan poultry industry is slowly recovering after the revolutionary upheavals of the last year.

In the post-revolutionary climate, the Libyan feed, poultry, and livestock industries also have new opportunities to grow, invest, and seek out foreign partnerships. Libya's oil exports are back to 95% of pre-revolutionary levels, and the country's oil and natural gas wealth undergird a relatively strong economy. Adding it up, Libya has renewed potential for U.S. exporters despite its small population of about six million.

Prior to the revolution, Libya annually imported between 450,000 to 650,000 tonnes (18 to 26 million bushels) of corn in the 2005-10 period. As a result of the recent upheavals, imports slowed in 2011 to approximately 320,000 tonnes (13 million bushels). This year, corn imports are likely to total roughly 450,000 tonnes (18 million bushels) as the country's and feed/livestock industries rebound and rebuild.

During the 2007-08 marketing year, there was a high of 243,000 tonnes (10 million bushels) of U.S. corn exports to Libya. U.S. corn in Libya competes with imported feed wheat, corn from other sources, and both domestic and imported barley for ruminant feed (sheep, cattle, camels). Imported soybean meal is also a factor; soybean meal imports ranged from 180,000 to 215,000 tonnes in the 2005 to 2010 period. Again, there was a major slowdown in 2011 due to the revolution, but the market is expected to pick up to 275,000 tonnes in 2012.

The council has planned a DDGS information day in Tunis for both Tunisian and Libyan buyers on May 31, in partnership with Mirasco, POET and a Tunisian broker.