Foreign customers are looking closely at distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) as a feed source for their livestock. And, according to the National Corn Growers Association, they like what they see.

According to the Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. producers exported a record 1.3 million metric tons of DDGS in 2006. The ethanol industry produced nearly 12 million metric tons of DDGS in 2006, meaning more than 10 percent of U.S. production was exported.

The increase in DDGS exports was driven primarily by major gains in shipments to Mexico, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Morocco and Taiwan. Mexico was the leading export market, importing 367,386 metric tons of DDGS, or 29 percent of total U.S. exports. While the most growth was seen in Mexico and the Pacific Rim countries, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom continued to be major importers of U.S. DDGS. Ireland imported 145,225 metric tons, and Canada received 121,784 metric tons.

"As world demand for protein continues to increase and meat sectors around the globe continue to expand, the U.S. ethanol industry is well positioned to provide significant volumes of high-quality feed to international markets," said Bruce Noel, NCGA Ethanol Committee Chairman. Noel attributed much of the export growth to the success of educational efforts led by corn grower organizations and the U.S. Grains Council.

New guidelines for nutritional analysis of DDGS, released recently by NCGA, the American Feed Industry Association and Renewable Fuels Association, is another tool that should help foreign buyers in the trade of DDGS, Noel said.

Last week a team representing dairy, swine and poultry companies from five Latin American countries toured DDGS export and production facilities in Louisiana, Minnesota and Kansas, learning more about corn-based ethanol and DDGS, according to Kansas Corn Growers Association (KCGA) executive director Jere White. The visit was sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council.

"The visit went very well," said White, who helped host the group at a farm and an ethanol plant both located within a mile of the KCGA offices in Garnett, Kan. "They asked a lot of questions about DDGS, but also about corn supplies in general. They were impressed seeing the quality of the grain that goes into ethanol and DDGS."

White sees the export market as a potentially valuable one for DDGS.

"It's a viable option, particularly for areas that produce a lot of ethanol but don't have a lot of livestock," he noted.