Detroit —There are ample agribusiness opportunities available throughout the world, according to Christopher Nolan Sr., managing director and co-head of food, beverage and agribusiness coverage at PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance LLC, who gave the keynote address Tuesday to the more than 400 attendees of the Export Exchange 2016 conference.
Co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Export Exchange 2016 offers attendees an unparalleled 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 attendance at the conference.
There are a number of forces impacting agribusiness, Nolan told the Export Exchange audience in Detroit, including technology convergence, population growth, sustainability and food security, all of which the agriculture industry can address.
“Evolving technology in agriculture will continue. Resourceful farmers will continue to find ways to utilize technology to increase yield and reduce costs,” he said. Agribusiness is a global business and will continue to remain one, he added.
In his presentation, Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of RFA, gave an overview of the upcoming U.S. presidential election and its potential impact on trade.
"No matter who wins the presidential election on Nov. 8, trade is too important to our consumers, our agricultural system and our entire economy to be relegated to the kind of hyperbolic, overblown and ultimately counterproductive political rhetoric that has beset the campaigns in recent months," he said. "Despite that rhetoric, we believe free and fair trade, and trade pacts, are going to continue to play an important role in our agricultural economy."
During the first general session of the conference, attendees also heard about the state of agriculture exports.
"The U.S. is set to produce record crops of 384 million metric tons in 2016. Of that, we expect to export 55 million metric tons of corn – another record. These numbers just go to demonstrate the productivity of our industry," said Chip Councell, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, and a farmer in Maryland.
"With feed grain prices expected to remain competitive over the near term, there is no better opportunity than now to invest in expanded livestock production. We, U.S. farmers, encourage our foreign customers to invest in the future and use this abundance of feed grains to expand their capacity for grain use – with livestock, in ethanol and beyond."
In his presentation, RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper provided an outlook of the U.S. ethanol industry co-product exports, with a focus on DDGS.
“We expect to see continued modest growth in U.S. distiller's grains and corn gluten supplies, as ethanol production continues slow expansion,” he said.
Over the last 10 years, there has been dramatic growth in exports to Asian markets, particularly to China, however DDGS exports to China have been highly volatile since 2008, he noted. But exports to other regions are steady or expanding, Including Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and several other countries, he added.
Export Exchange 2016 will continue through Wednesday afternoon with additional speakers, a robust trade show and networking opportunities.
More about the event is online at www.exportexchange.org or on social media using the hash tag #ExEx16.