DDGS market finds equilibrium

International demand expected to remain strong, and domestic feed use of DDGS should pick up this summer.

The market for dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) has apparently found equilibrium, because prices are unchanged and little news is present, according to the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).

USGC said ethanol plants are reporting that their product is at a premium to both the domestic market and Mississippi River barge rates. The DDGS barge CIF rates for New Orleans, La., have been "stubbornly flat for the past two months," hovering at $135-136 per metric ton, the council said, while Chicago, Ill., prices have similarly been "essentially unchanged since March, stuck in a $128-131/mt trading range.”

On the international front, USGC noted that inquiries from Southeast Asian buyers are active, but merchandisers are reporting few trades.

“Traders are confirming May shipments to Indonesia while also noting container movement is signaling shipments to other yet-unknown locations. Reports are circulating that Korean buyers are interested in July shipments but are not ready to commit just yet,” the council said.

Prices for 40 ft. containers to Southeast Asia were flat last week and averaged $176/mt FOB for May. CNF Asia prices were up 38 cents/mt to $197.75.

According to USGC, the recent cold weather across the southern Plains states and other parts of the Midwest may temporarily boost feed demand for DDGS.

“Currently, DDGS FOB ethanol plants are priced at 34% of the value of soybean meal and 85% of the value of cash corn. The per-protein unit cost advantage of feeding DDGS versus soybean meal eroded 15 cents this week as DDGS prices were steady and soybean meal prices fell,” USGC said.

On the export market, USGC reported that DDGS is priced at 42% of FOB Gulf soybean meal values and 92% of FOB Gulf corn. The per-protein unit cost advantage of DDGS expanded 6 cents to $1.58 last week, which USGC said was driven by pricing strength for soybean meal.

“DDGS prices will remain stable for the next several weeks, unless some unforeseen policy change dictates otherwise. The market has found equilibrium between maintenance-induced supply reductions and already-filled procurement needs. There is little fundamental reason for prices to move significantly one way or the other," USGC said. "Looking toward the summer, however, international demand is expected to remain strong, and domestic feed use of DDGS should pick up as well. This should be price supportive, even as ethanol/DDGS production picks up from its seasonal spring lull.”

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