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The grain buyers from 35 countries who attended this year’s Export Exchange conference in Minneapolis have since reported buying an estimated $403 million worth of coarse grains and co-products, including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and feed grains.

The biennial event was held in October, sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy to offer an opportunity for education and introductions to members of the U.S. grains production and export industries.

Buyers and end-users were polled while at the conference and immediately after regarding purchase agreements with sellers and how much volume (tonnage) they bought. In total, attendees reported sales of approximately 2.1 million metric tons of grains and co-products traded either at the conference or immediately before or after.

“Bringing buyers and sellers together in this way is crucial to U.S. farmers right now, and these sales show buyers at Export Exchange 2018 were serious about making deals,” said Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the Council. “Considering the international trade climate, we are pleased to see these number are holding steady.”

Many buyers this year noted their purchasing strategies were more short-term, due to uncertain relationship between the United States and China, but reported they valued their long-term partnerships with U.S. suppliers. Many also reported they are still considering future purchases.

The top grain traded during the two-day conference was DDGS, with more than 1.3 million metric tons collectively exchanged. This number translates to just over 11 percent of last year’s total U.S. DDGS exports. In addition, buyers reported contracting 619,000 metric tons of U.S. corn and 4,050 metric tons of U.S. sorghum.

“It’s no surprise that the top commodity traded during Export Exchange was DDGS, as last year we shipped the ethanol co-product to 50 countries on five continents,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “DDGS and other ethanol co-products provide a value-added market for the U.S. ethanol industry, and the Export Exchange was successful, providing an ideal platform to connect buyers and sellers.”

Export Exchange 2018 offered overseas attendees a unique opportunity to meet and build relationships with domestic suppliers of corn, DDGS, sorghum, barley and other commodities. Nearly 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products were in Minneapolis for the conference, held Oct. 22-24, and for related tours of U.S. farms, ethanol plans and export infrastructure as part of 21 Council-sponsored trade teams.

“The 2018 Export Exchange has once again demonstrated the numerous benefits that ethanol and its co-products, like DDGS, bring to the international market,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “DDGS are the most extensively studied feed ingredient in the past 20 years and stands testament to the contributions of the biofuels industry in supporting global agriculture. This event is a critical venue for American producers to build bonds internationally and foster a healthy trade environment.”

Other grains traded at Export Exchange included:

• Corn Gluten Feed —54,000 metric tons;

• Corn Gluten Meal – 600 metric tons;

• Barley—500 metric tons; and

• Other products including soybeans, soybean meal, feed wheat – 70,000 metric tons

During the month of October, the Nebraska Corn Board hosted two trade missions which consisted of major U.S. corn buyers from Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The trade teams met with Nebraska farmers, suppliers and exporters of corn and corn co-products to better understand U.S. corn production, marketing and exporting logistics. The visits were coordinated in collaboration with the U.S. Grains Council, which works to develop export markets for U.S. agricultural products, such as corn, distiller’s dried grains with soluables (DDGS) and ethanol.

“American farmers have sustainably been growing quality agricultural products for generations,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside of the United States, we must develop and maintain positive trade agreements with our global customers. By inviting these customers to the U.S., we’re able to help them understand our supply chain, so they’ll feel more confident doing business with American farmers. This undeniably has an economic value to our state and our country, but we’re also helping provide feed, fuel and fiber to the world.”

While in Nebraska, the Mexican grain buyers met with local corn farmers, Aurora Cooperative and Gavilon to better understand the U.S. value chain of white corn to Mexico from harvest to shipping. Nebraska is the largest white corn producing state in the country, and Mexico has historically been the largest importer of U.S. white corn. From Nebraska, the group further explored the American white corn industry through stops in Missouri and Kentucky.

Both trade missions, from Mexico and Saudi Arabia, represented only two of 21 international teams that were in the U.S. in October. The 21 teams consisted of more than 200 grain buyers who participated In Export Exchange, a bi-yearly event sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council, Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy. This year’s Export Exchange took place Oct. 22 through Oct. 24 in Minneapolis. The purpose of the event was to connect global grain buyers to over 300 domestic suppliers.

While the Mexican team visited Nebraska to learn about the white corn supply chain prior to Export Exchange, the grain buyers from Saudi Arabia came to Nebraska after the event concluded.

Saudi Arabia is the eighth largest overseas importer of U.S. corn, importing 3.7 million metric tons in market year 2017/2018, and is the second largest buyer of U.S. sorghum, importing 280 thousand metric tons during the 2017/2018 market year. The imported commodities are frequently used in dairies, feed and poultry companies.

While in Nebraska, the Saudi Arabian team visited the farms of Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Don Bloss, past chairman of the National Sorghum Producers. As major feed grain buyers, this team wanted to better familiarize themselves with U.S. corn and sorghum production. In addition to visiting Nebraska corn and sorghum farms, they visited Farmers’ Cooperative in Beatrice, the Aurora Cooperative corporate office and Pacific Ethanol, both in Aurora, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“We really had several great conversations with both teams over the last several weeks,” said Roger Berry, director of market development with the Nebraska Corn Board. “Our governments may not always see eye-to-eye, but these customers are so eager to learn more about U.S. agriculture. They want to be partners with American farmers in helping to meet the growing demands of their people, which is a major reason we host these trade teams. We have products to sell and we want to be able to show the world that U.S. agriculture is open for business.”

The Nebraska Corn Board partnered with the U.S. Grains Council to coordinate the missions. The U.S. Grains Council works in more than 50 countries and the European Union to market U.S. grains and their related products to build long-term demand from loyal customers. This work is also supported by funding from the USDA through the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program in the U.S. farm bill.