DETROIT — Food companies, including those supplying animal protein and grains, need to understand consumer expectations to remain successful, Todd Armstrong, senior director of Global Market Access at Elanco, told the more than 400 attendees of the Export Exchange 2016 conference on Wednesday.
He joined other speakers during the conference’s second day of general sessions focused on demand trends and how grain producers and users can meet consumer expectations in a cost-effective manner using U.S. grain products.
Co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Export Exchange 2016 offers attendees a unique opportunity to meet and build relationships with domestic suppliers of corn, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), sorghum, barley and other commodities. More than 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products from more than 35 countries are in Detroit for the conference.
“When you ask consumers what they expect, the consumer is demanding and expecting increased transparency in what happens to their food,” Armstrong said. “In the animal protein industry, we’re expected to be more transparent about how we raise animals.”
Paul Hishmeh, data and technology director for Field to Market, spoke on work in the United States ongoing to quantify and communicate farm sustainability, which is of increasing interest to consumers around the world.
Attendees also heard Wednesday from Florentino Lopez, executive director of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), on U.S. sorghum availability and new uses and a panel providing international perspectives on DDGS utilization.
During the panel, Dr. Budi Tangendjaja, a consultant with USGC, described his work with a Vietnamese feed company that used formulation software but no DDGS database, showing the Export Exchange crowd the calculations he worked through with the customers. After helping the company include DDGS in its calculations, the feed mill realized cost savings, he noted.
Dr. Abdellah Ait Boulahsen, a Council consultant in Morocco, also outlined scenarios he has used with companies in that market, showing how they can use U.S. DDGS as part of a lowest-cost feed formulation.
U.S. DDGS are sold “consistently” to more than 40 countries, said USGC Manager of Global Trade Alvaro Cordero, who also spoke on the panel, with growth to other regions happening. There are many companies that “are leaving a lot of money on the table” by not taking advantage of DDGS, he noted, a common theme of conversations at the conference between buyers and sellers.
Export Exchange concludes late Wednesday in Detroit. More information about the event is at www.ExportExchange.org or on social media at #ExEx16.