As bioethanol production at the Ensus plant on Teesside, England gathers pace, so too is output of the main by-product, dried distillers grains.
Feed supplier BOCM is using several thousand tonnes a week of Ensus DDGS in 12 mills and four blending plants to replace rapeseed meal, soy, sunflower and to some extent wheat and wheat meal, raw materials director Tony Bell said.
"It's worked very well in terms of ration formulation and broadening the spread of raw materials," he said.
Consistency had been a problem as some product had not been as dense as hoped. But he acknowledged the bioethanol plant was still at an early stage and he welcomed the new source of home-grown protein.
While the product was at a slight premium because it was in relatively short supply, Bell anticipated that the price would have to fall relative to other proteins as more came to the market, including from new plants at Hull (scheduled to market its first product in 2011) and Grimsby (2013).
Glencore is marketing the 350,000 tonnes of DDGS produced by Ensus as well as supplying the 1.2 million tonnes of wheat the plant will use every year. There had been exceptionally good domestic demand and some shipments had also been sent to Ireland, said Keith Davies, Glencore Grain managing director.
All the DDGS produced by the Ensus plant will be used by feed compounders for ruminant rations, with more limited use in pig and poultry feeds.
Many on-farm mixers would like to try the product but the DDGS are in meal form at present, making it harder to handle on farm. The refinery may add a pelletting plant in future for the product, which is currently turning out at 29%-32% protein.
Corn bioethanol plants in the US will be producing 43 million tonnes a year of DDGS by 2014, roughly double the production level of 2008. The US exported more than 5.6 million tonnes of distillers grains in 2009, 24% above 2008 levels and more than five times higher than the volume exported just five years ago. Mexico, Canada and China are its three largest customers.