(Posted Mon. Aug 29th, 2016)
A group of grain buyers from Taiwan visited Indiana and Michigan last week to become familiar with production, application, grading and quality standards for U.S. corn and distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS). The trip gave stakeholders the chance to gain technical skills and knowledge in handling, procurement and storage and offered critical insight into the advantages of purchasing U.S. corn and DDGS.
Taiwan is the seventh largest U.S. agricultural export market and the sixth largest for U.S. corn. In 2015, Taiwan imported 1.84 million metric tons of corn with 95 percent of the total used for animal feed in the swine and poultry sectors. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC), of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, continues to foster promotion of corn and DDGS in Taiwan through trade teams and ongoing relationship building.
"DDGS use is growing in Taiwan. Currently, the inclusion rate is low, and we're trying to encourage producers to increase that percentage to create better quality feed," said Clover Chang, Taiwan office USGC, the sponsor of this week's team travel.
In order to facilitate this process and encourage confidence in U.S. corn and DDGS purchases, the group took part in several learning and information sharing opportunities.
The trip began in Indiana, where the team visited Purdue University to learn about soil and crop management techniques as well as performance evaluation for corn and soybeans. This included a look into technological and industry standards geared towards quality, an important factor in buying decisions.
The team had the chance to visit the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation and Phenotyping Center to supplement this knowledge and see research in crop productivity in action.
"The team learned how technology is being applied to improve quality. It gave them insight into the importance of efficiency in crop production," Chang said. "Seeing the steps involved helps buyers feel more confident in the product."
The group rounded out their visit to Indiana with a stop at a transportation facility to see firsthand the logistics involved in transporting grain. As a follow up to this information, representatives from the Indiana Corn Marketing Council shared market updates and gave an outlook on the current growing season.
The team also stopped in Michigan, visiting a poultry farm to learn more about egg processing and feed mill operations. Grain storage and overall plant maintenance information helped team members find ways to improve their own plant processes as well.
In addition to farms and feed mills, the team also visited an ethanol plant and learned more about both fuel and DDGS production. While Taiwan is still in the initial stages of ethanol research, the trip gave participants a chance to see how ethanol could be used in the future.
"The Council continues to work to find ways to promote ethanol in Taiwan. This was a great opportunity for stakeholders to see how valuable it can be," Chang said.
To learn more about work to increase demand for U.S. corn in Taiwan, click here.