WASHINGTON – Future poultry leaders and a national poultry representative from Colombia learned about the US industry during a tour in late May that included visits to a farm, an ethanol plant and export facilities.

The visit, coordinated by the US Grains Council (USGC), provided information on US feed grains and the co-product export system from field to port.

“These meetings and visits will contribute to the training of these poultry leaders, making sure they understand the competitive advantages the United States can provide in terms of logistics, quality control and reliability,” said Ana Ballesteros, USGC marketing director for the Western Hemisphere. “While doing this, the Council will also create the needed bonds with these leaders, facilitating future interactions and getting a better understanding of these individual producers and their potential as poultry producers in this market.”

The poultry industry in Colombia is the main feed grains consumer, estimated to use one-third of total corn consumption in the country. Most poultry producers are integrated and produce their own feed; some of these companies are family-owned and managed and have been undergoing a transition to younger family members or professionals becoming part of their management teams.

During the tours, the team learned how distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) are produced; and discussed poultry rations with university experts and US poultry industry leaders. The team also toured the USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service labs and talked with independent surveyors in New Orleans.

As the fourth largest buyer of US corn, Colombia purchases in 2017-18 totaled 5.08 million tonnes (200 million bushels), setting a new record for the fifth year in a row, and 202,000 tonnes of US DDGS. Thus far in the new marketing year (September 2018-March 2019), Colombia has purchased 3.17 million tonnes (125 million bushels), up nearly 9 percent year-over-year, in addition to 135,000 tonnes of US DDGS. Overall, corn exports to Colombia have increased roughly 19-fold since the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 2012.

“This trade team was a great way to interact with these future poultry leaders and show them how the US export system has consistently been able to provide their sector with the most important ingredient of their feed rations – corn – and facilitate continuous growth and development,” Ballesteros said. “The visit also enabled us to continue strengthening our relationship with the Colombian poultry association, which allows us, at the Council, to better understand some of the most important corn customers in the country and work together to develop the industry and generate more feed demand.