Branding and Policies, With a Little Production

FROM THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the September issue, including features on E15 branding, corn oil extraction, regulations and safety.
By Lisa Gibson | August 17, 2018

Generally, when I pull my white Buick Regal (her name is Claire) up to the gas pump, I look for the familiar 91 octane fuel with a 10 percent ethanol blend. That’s what I know. That’s what I buy.

Defaulting to the recognizable is a standard consumer behavior and it takes some blame for the slow growth of E15 acceptance. Consumers, for the most part, aren’t interested in taking the time to learn about a new product at the gas pump. We don’t like to hang out there longer than we have to.

Branding E15 across the industry has been a main goal of Growth Energy’s Prime the Pump initiative. Retailers call E15 different names, market it differently and sell it sporadically. After what sounds like thorough research and on-the-ground surveys with customers at fuel stations, Growth Energy says the best name for E15, and the name PtP will promote to all retailers, is Unleaded88. Depending on market guidelines, a retailer could use Regular88, but the branding and presentation will be the same. The large retailers already partnered with PtP are starting to make the switch now. But for total market coverage, it needs to go beyond those retailers to every little gas station in, say, Petersburg, North Dakota.

The cover story, “On the Brandwagon,” (page 16) looks at Growth Energy’s new name and complete marketing strategy, and how it expects them to spread beyond its cohorts. Market pressure plays a role, but one large retailer who hasn’t participated in PtP says he’ll switch to the Unleaded88 brand on his pumps. He says it’s just good marketing and a sound business decision to sell the product that’s recognizable. It’s wise for retailers of all sizes to follow along, he adds.

Switching our focus to coproducts, the feature on page 24, “Extraction Optimization,” addresses the process changes required to accommodate some of the new enzyme and fractionation techniques for corn oil extraction. It’s worth the investment and extracting more oil doesn’t necessarily make the DDGS less valuable, experts say, adding that producers are “leaving money on the table.”

 “Violation, Education and Documentation” reports the figures on EPA fines levied in the past few years, common mistakes that can prompt penalties, best practices to avoid accidental violations, and more. In some instances, a violation can result from one mistake in a permit. It starts on page 30.

Finally, “Outside OSHA’s Umbrella,” communicates to producers that 100 percent compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates does not eliminate safety hazards. Facilities should go above and beyond those regulations, implementing their own programs to maintain safe workplaces. It’s a story idea from a prominent figure in the safety sector. Turn to page 36 to learn more about suggested safety plan goals.

We’ve covered several topics in this issue, across many sectors of our industry: branding and policies, with a little production. Our cover story on E15 is particularly relevant, as the Reid vapor pressure season ends this month. Of course, a waiver is crucial to the continued spread of Unleaded88 sales and several sources in that feature say they expect it (perhaps optimistically, I suspect) next year.
With that waiver, I hope more stations here in Grand Forks, North Dakota, will offer Unleaded88. Claire would appreciate the upgrade. 

Author: Lisa Gibson