Biodiesel: Adding value to U.S. pork
By KRISS NELSON
DES MOINES – The increased demand for biodiesel, said Alan Weber, an advisor to the National Biodiesel Board, helps keep soybean meal prices competitive when demand for soybeans continues to rise globally.
Producing biodiesel using animal fats is growingm he said.
“In the last five years, biodiesel has lowered soybean-meal prices by at least $21 per ton,” Weber said at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines. “Third-party research estimates that impact equates to a decrease of $2.50 per head that pork producers pay for their feed.”
According to Weber, biodiesel also impacted soy oil prices by 11 cents a pound.
Weber said that creating demand for soybean oil results in more domestic crush of U.S. soybeans, which results in more soybean meal on the market and decreases the price that poultry and livestock producers pay for feed.
Biodiesel, Weber said, can be made from a wide variety of feedstocks, including animal fats.
More than 53 percent of the biodiesel produced is made from soybean oil. However, other approved feedstocks include recycled restaurant oils, distillers corn oil, canola oil and animal fats.
Animal fat makes up 10 percent of biodiesel feedstock. Weber estimated a quarter of all animal fat went into 2014 biodiesel production.
Volumes and amounts of animal fat, Weber said, continue to increase, making it more available to be used in biodiesel production.
Animal fat has primarily been used for feed, or for exports. However, the export market has been declining.
Weber said that the increased use of animal fat for biodiesel has improved returns for livestock, a $1.24 increase per head for pigs, for example.
This has also helped create more jobs.
According to Weber, the increased price and use of animal fat and tallow support a greater amount of animal-processing jobs. It is calculated that animal processing for biodiesel accounted for more than 15 percent of the jobs created by the biodiesel industry.
By increasing the demand of biodiesel, Weber said, benefits would include rural economic development as well as environmental.
From 2004 to 2014, 8.2 billion gallons of biodiesel were used resulting in reduced carbon pollution by 75.5 million metric tons.
“Environmental aspects make a big deal to folks,” he said.
It may surprise some that biodiesel is manufactured and used nationwide.
“Biodiesel is used east to west, north to south, not just in the Midwest,” said Weber.