U.S. Ethanol Co-Product in Aquafeeds

U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a co-product of U.S. ethanol production, has been making inroads into non-traditional feed markets such as aquaculture
December 4, 2008

U.S. Ethanol Co-Product in Aquafeeds

The U.S. Grains Council has been active in researching how DDGS can be used in non-livestock feed rations through the various feeding trials it has conducted throughout the world. While the use of DDGS in both aquaculture feed and pet food is currently in the research phase, studies have shown that the co-product has the potential to serve as a healthy, reasonably priced feed ingredient.

In Southeast Asia, aquaculture is the region’s fastest growing demand sector for feed grains. Indonesia and Vietnam are already using DDGS in aquaculture diets. Total aquaculture production for the region is estimated to reach 9 million metric tons as the export demand continues to increase.

DDGS can be used for both sinking and floating aquafeeds at inclusion rates of 5-7 percent, however, one issue the Council has been working to address is the impact increased DDGS inclusion rates have on meat color.

“There is one factor that discourages higher inclusion rates of DDGS and that is the aquaculture industry’s perception that DDGS, when used at a rate higher than 10-15 percent, could affect meat color,” Yusupov said.

“Since the industry in Southeast Asia is geared toward exports, there is a preference for white to pale yellow meat.” Yusupov said the Council has been engaged in DDGS feeding trials within the region with the aim to further explore this issue.

In August, the Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Vihn Hoan Company in Vietnam to conduct a DDGS feeding trial with catfish, coinciding with plans to develop an aquaculture demonstration farm on the company’s premises. The feeding trial is currently underway, due for completion in December, and Vihn Hoan Company is in the process of building two ponds for the demonstration farm.

“We are optimistic that DDGS can be used up to 15 percent in catfish diets, however, this needs to be scientifically proven for the industry to accept that,” Yusupov said.

DDGS used in aquaculture is also showing promise in Egypt’s market. Fish consumption in the country is approximately 13 kilgrams per capita, with aquaculture producing 61 percent of that number. Tilapia, catfish and mullet are the most commonly cultured fish in Egypt. According to USGC Director in Egypt Dr. Hussein Soliman, the country’s aquaculture production number is expected to double in the next 5 to 10 years. For now, Egypt’s aquaculture industry uses about 5,000 tons of U.S. DDGS at an inclusion rate of 3-5 percent. The Council’s intention for the next few years is to increase the DDGS inclusion rate up to 10 percent in Egypt’s feed rations.

“Since Egyptian fish farmers started using DDGS two years ago, feed costs have been reduced by 2 percent,” he said. “As long as the price of DDGS is cost-efficient, the ingredient will be well received here. If the price of DDGS becomes 105 or 110 percent of that of corn, I believe DDGS usage in Egypt will increase from its current amount of 53,000 tons to 100,000 tons in a very short period of time.”