American corn and ethanol find receptive market in Taiwan

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The US grain harvest in 2012, which was smaller than expected, forced loyal customers like Taiwan to look elsewhere for the poultry and hog feed previously provided by U.S. farmers, causing U.S. share of Taiwan’s grain market to drop 40 percent.

Not taking the change passively, the U.S. Grains Council developed the Grain Quality Condition report, which informs markets like Taiwan on the quality of U.S. crop, to reignite interest in buying American. The good news is that this active approach has brought an 18-percent rise in market share since that low point.

“You have to be a reliable supplier,” says Minnesota farmer Doug Albin, one of two Americans who took part in the six-day visit earlier this year to deliver the 2017 Grain Quality Condition report as part of the Taiwan Corn Quality Symposium. “This is our way to tell our foreign corn customers how good our crop is. Not only bushels, but also that the US has a very good supply of corn.”

U.S Grains Council and Taiwan officials discuss the future of corn in the country

Albin said corn weighed 58 pounds per bushel—two pounds better than Grade 2 Corn, and it measured 15-percent moisture, which is exactly where they want it. It also has excellent milling quality and superior characteristics as far as breakage and cracks.

While in Taiwan, Albin also attended the country’s Poultry Producer’s conference. While grain was the star of the show, his group went on to conduct meetings with government officials to promote ethanol.

Taiwan has air quality problems, and officials from Taiwan’s agriculture and energy departments are very interested in blending biofuels to restore clean air. They are contemplating an overall three-percent requirement for the entire fuel supply of Taiwan, with an eight-percent volume for government vehicles.

Preventing buy-in is the perception that using corn in the production of fuel robs food from animals and people. Helping ease that concern is recent breakthroughs in research, like the production of food grade flour from distillers grains, which is a co-product of the ethanol process.

Albin said additional conversation will also be needed around easing fears of putting ethanol-blended fuels in small engines like with mopeds, which are very popular in Taiwan. Albin said his group is meeting with small engine manufacturers to present research that proves E10 works in small engines with proper care. Albin is confident this ongoing conversation will change opinions.

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