International policy experts discuss ethanol’s global role

By Growth Energy | February 23, 2016

On Feb. 23 Growth Energy, the largest trade association representing the producers and supporters of the ethanol industry, held another panel entitled, “Ethanol on the World Stage,” at its seventh annual Executive Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida.

As uncertainty has loomed domestically, ethanol producers have increasingly looked abroad for new opportunities in growing international markets that are in need of a cleaner burning, renewable fuel. Additionally, producers have progressively exported higher levels of DDGS, a coproduct of ethanol that has become a popular high-protein feedstock. DDGS are becoming widely incorporated into the livestock feed industry overseas due to their versatility and high nutrient concentration, and have thus evolved into a key component of the ethanol industry’s exports. In fact, 2015 was a record year for DDGS exports, while fuel ethanol exports were also very strong.

The discussion focused on the important role that ethanol occupies in the global marketplace and the need to seize every opportunity to expand ethanol utilization worldwide. Panelists also reviewed the importance of additional trade missions to identify new markets and expand existing ones. These efforts are designed to produce win-win opportunities for our international customers, global ethanol producers and the U.S. ethanol industry.

The panel was moderated by Ray Defenbaugh, CEO and chairman of Big River Resources LLC. Panelists included Paul Trupo, director of the USDA FAS Global Policy Analysis Division, Joel Williams, manager of ethanol trading at ADM, Mark Marquis, CEO of Marquis Energy LLC, Amit Sachdev, South Asia representative (India Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) at the U.S. Grains Council, and Junyang Jiang, deputy director of the U.S. Grains Council China World Office.

During the discussion, Defenbaugh stressed the importance of the partnership with the U.S. Grains Council, as it is helping create new opportunities across the globe for exports. During the panel, it was announced by Marquis, a board member of Growth Energy, that Growth Energy has set a goal to export at least 2 billion gallons of fuel ethanol by 2022, calling the program, “At Least 2 by 22.”

Marquis added that, “foreign market development needs to be an additional prong of our major activities.” He added, “In light of the COP21 agreement, I think there is a general realization that ethanol can be an important tool in improving air quality in heavily populated areas such as India and China.” 

Trupo explained that, “Opening new markets in foreign countries is not always strictly market driven. It often requires changes in regulatory systems and influencing policymakers.” Trupo added that, “We need this export market to continue to balance our supply/demand equation through a combination of domestic and foreign sales.”

As the panel concluded, the general consensus was that there are tremendous opportunities for exports moving forward and that Growth Energy and its members will continue to participate in trade missions to open new markets to meet the growing global demand for ethanol and DDGS.