Export Exchange strengthens relationship with Canada

Farm Forum

There is still no substitute for personal relationships. When it comes to buying grain and feed ingredients such as U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), making phone calls and searching the Internet doesn’t always lead to the right contact. That is why the U.S. Grains Council’s Export Exchange 2012 conference in Minneapolis, Minn., helped drive sales far into the future.

“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 transload 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. DDGS. The conference showed him the 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. DDGS 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 DDGS 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 DDGS 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. “I don’t have time to do it all myself,” he said, referring to tracking down research results.

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 DDGS and is ongoing, he said.

Lavoie said since the U.S. DDGS market is a continually changing market, to have access to the latest information and opportunities to interact with others in the industry at meetings such as Export Exchange is important.