Mexico has the potential to increase its imports of distiller’s dried grains (DDGS) with solubles by four-fold, according to Julio Hernandez, U.S. Grains Council director in Mexico and Central America, speaking at the Council’s International Distillers Grains Conference in Indianapolis, Ind.

Mexico currently is the No. 1 purchaser of U.S. DDGS, a co-product of ethanol production, importing 708,000 metric tons in the 2007 calendar year. Canada follows with 317,580 tons last year.

In the first eight months of 2008, Mexico has already imported nearly 699,000 tons. Hernandez said his native country is not near its maximum utilization of the co-product. He said Mexico has the potential in the foreseeable future to import as much as 4 million tons of distiller’s grains.

“This is a very realistic potential,” Hernandez said. “However, the current financial crisis will represent a slowing in growth of Mexico’s livestock and poultry industries, but we are confident this will not last long.”

The poultry industry is the strongest sector in Mexico, demanding the greatest amount of feed ingredients. An increase in broiler capacity has occurred in the last three years and a steady continuation of this trend is anticipated. Hernandez calculates Mexico’s poultry sector to eventually import 1.1 million tons of DDGS.

Meanwhile, the beef sector has the potential to use 1 million tons; dairy 890,000 tons; and swine 788,000 tons. Hernandex said the Council will also explore promoting distiller’s grains beyond the livestock and poultry industries in an effort to maximize profitability for agribusinesses and U.S. farmers.

“We see great potential for DDGS outside the typical markets. The aquaculture and pet food industries are two examples of sectors that have great potential in terms of incorporating DDGS,” he said. “The Council is currently conducting a study to better understand these businesses. Mexico has a lot of room for growth. Don’t rule us out yet.”