Near-Term Ingredient Problem: DDGS Shortage Solution

It’s not every day that a 0.1-micron-diameter virus, invisible to the naked eye, comes along and changes the world. This is all the more fascinating when it’s not even clear as to whether or not viruses are considered a form of life.  In case you’re curious, viruses are really quite small, as this video shows, in relation to the havoc they can cause.  I should probably also define “near-term” – while it’s true that the food and feed processing industrial infrastructure is inflexible and slow to change (i.e., an equipment processing line can’t be installed overnight), in some cases, certain types of equipment can be retooled for new uses rather quickly, even within the same day. More on this below…

Immediately, it’s going to be more of a challenge to obtain and formulate with distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGS).  This is because fuel prices have fallen drastically due to reduced travel, and also stocks of ethanol fuel are near an all-time high, making it impossible for some plants to continue operation (see here), especially if they run out of places to store it.  As DDGS are a by-product of the corn ethanol fuel industry, production will be curtailed, and supplies will fall.  Already, the price of DDGS has surged based on this situation.

Especially for swine and poultry diets, this is critical because DDGS can be included at high levels (30-40% or higher) due to their relatively low price. Without abundant DDGS, more corn and soy meals will be needed to fill the gap, in order to keep diet costs low and simply to meet the nutrient needs of the animal. Perhaps for corn this won’t be a problem because corn demand from ethanol plants will be lower, but something must fill the gap for protein. This can be high-shear dry extruded/partly-deoiled (ExPress®) soy meal as we’ve discussed here time and time again (see here, here, and here).

Additionally, diet formulations with higher-quality ingredients tend to lower diet costs compared to lower-quality alternatives. For example, swine grower diets formulated ExPress® soymeal saved $1.40/ton of complete feed compared to hexane-extracted soybean meal.

And, with plentiful, presumably cheaper corn, this opens even better possibilities for value-added processing. We’ve discussed the use of high-shear dry extrusion for corn several times. For example, the Insta-Pro high-shear version produces very high quality extruded corn with a uniquely-high rate of starch gelatinization.

Back to retooling existing equipment – our widely-used 2000 high-shear dry extruder for soy can, relatively easily, be converted to an extruder for corn by replacing the entire shaft.

Whenever situations and markets change quickly, look for any new developments that may benefit you.  Ask your ExPress® soy customers if they will be requiring more meal sooner rather than later.  Also, consider either converting an existing soy extruder into a corn extruder, or buying a 2000-CG, to enter the value-added corn market.

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