WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The rapidly increasing entrepreneurial spirit witnessed in Vietnam encouraged participants of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC) Corn Mission about future opportunities for U.S. agricultural products, the USGC said on Dec. 15.

Nine U.S. producers and corn organization staff traveled to Japan, China and Vietnam Nov. 28-Dec. 9 for a firsthand look at the challenges of developing and defending export markets and to share insights on the U.S. 2011 crop supply and quality. Participants met with international customers, key foreign government officials and the council’s foreign-based international staff.

Vietnam is the fastest growing feed market in Asia. Although Vietnam mostly fills its corn needs with domestic and nearby country imports, the group still felt encouraged by the market potential.

“The drastically changing consumer habits will increase grain demand in Vietnam. We need to continue to educate Vietnamese buyers and farmers on benefits of buying from the United States,” said Pat Feldpausch, mission participant and president of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan. “The U.S. has a dependable system that provides transparency and risk management. We are a consistent supplier and buyers get better value for their purchases. Buying corn from nearby countries or from Ukraine is a risk. You may get a bargain but it’s a gamble.”

The group had the opportunity to see a council program in action at the local feed mill where USGC Consultant Dr. Budi Tangendjaja was conducting a seminar on the use and application of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

Paul Herringshaw, mission participant and vice-chairman of the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, said, “Vietnam has agile users of U.S. DDGS. It’s a good product that helps every diet. It’s a great way to move protein at a lower moisture, and it’s replacing Indian soybean meal and other competitive ingredients. We need to continue market education to increase the product moving into the country.”

In 2010, Vietnam became the 15th largest market for U.S. agricultural products. U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam grew fivefold from a mere $216 million in 2006 to $1.3 billion in 2010. Vietnam is the 8th largest market for U.S. feedstuffs, doubling over the past two years and valued at $151 million in 2010.

Mission members included:

• Bruce Wetzel, board member, Texas Corn Producer Board;

• Pat Feldpausch, president, Corn Marketing Program of Michigan;

• Tom Mueller, board member, Illinois Corn Marketing Board;

• Randy Woodruff, board member, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board;

• Paul Herringshaw, vice-chairman, Ohio Corn Marketing Program;

• Kurt Hora, board member, Iowa Corn Growers Association;

• Rob Korff, chairman, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council;

• Kelly Brunkhorst, ag program manager, Nebraska Corn Board; and

• Nancy Kavazanjian, communications director, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board, Inc.