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 at the Export Exchange 2016 conference held this week in Detroit, Mich.
A number of forces are affecting agribusiness, Nolan said, 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. Agribusiness is a global business and will continue to remain one,” he said.
Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive officer of the Renewable Fuels Assn. (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," Dinneen 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 Maryland farmer.
With feed grain prices expected to remain competitive over the near term, he said 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," Councell said.
RFA senior vice president Geoff Cooper provided an outlook of the U.S. ethanol industry's co-product exports, with a focus on dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS).
"We expect to see continued modest growth in U.S. distillers 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, Cooper noted, while exports to other regions have been steady or expanding, including to Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and several other countries.