Green Plains continues transformation journey as it registers record protein production volumes

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd
© GettyImages/Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd

Related tags Green Plains Protein Aquaculture Livestock pet

Green Plains sold 52,000 tons of its feed ingredient, Ultra-High Protein, in the first quarter of the year, an increase of 40,000 tons over the same period in 2022, according to its Q1 2023 financial results.

It said its protein technology operating at five facilities achieved record daily production rates in recent weeks and is on track to produce approximately 900 tons per day for the remainder of the year.

“As of the end of the first quarter, we achieved full production operating rates for Ultra-High Protein across our five MSC [Maximized Stillage Co-Products protein recovery system] locations,” said Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains.

“We expect to deliver even greater production levels when Wood River [Nebraska facility] returns to operation and anticipate seeing the full capabilities of this platform over the balance of the year.”

Business transformation

Green Plains has been evolving its business from traditional ethanol into a sustainable biorefinery platform producing value-add ingredients over the past few years.

It began ‘Ultra-High Protein’ manufacturing at its facility in Shenandoah, Iowa in April 2020, with it looking to meet the growing global appetite for sustainable protein in livestock feed, aquaculture diets and pet food.

Employing innovative technology to mechanically isolate the highest value part of the kernel in the traditional ethanol process, in February 2021, it announced it had generated a product with a 58% protein concentration level, compared to the 30% protein content with standard DDGS, and 48% for conventional soybean meal.

It has conducted further trials to achieve higher protein concentrations, adding that it has a proven path to commercial-scale concentrations above 60%.

Aqua feed focus

Green Plains expects to continue to supply meaningful volumes of its protein ingredient into the pet, aquaculture, and animal nutrition sectors. Last year saw it announce a partnership ​with North American aquaculture producer, Riverence Group. “We believe the inclusion of our Ultra-High Protein product in aqua feed formulations could positively impact the fish in/fish out (FIFO) ratio of aqua feed,” noted Green Plains’ sustainability report​, published last month.

That publication outlined how Green Plains’ protein products are plant-based, with key components of both corn and yeast. “While other plant-based proteins rely on harsh chemicals and solvents to extract their product, Green Plains uses clean mechanical separation of fiber, fat, and protein to produce consistent and nutritious Ultra-High Protein products. Corn has traditionally been considered an energy crop due to its starch content. However, by employing fermentation in conjunction with MSC technology, we are transforming corn into a versatile dual-purpose energy and protein resource.”

In 2022, the company completed the construction of three additional MSC installations: Central City, Nebraska; Mount Vernon, Indiana; and Obion, Tennessee. They joined the firm’s Shenandoah, Iowa, and Wood River, Nebraska based biorefineries already producing Ultra-High Protein.

“With MSC technology achieving consistent product quality and production capability, we have begun to see expanding margin contribution from repeat sales. We also continue our focus on further increasing our renewable corn oil yields. This is the result of years of planning and execution and is in line with our full transformation to a producer of a suite of sustainable ingredients,” added Becker. 

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