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Houston — US dried distillers grains with solubles for exports were assessed at an all-time high on Wednesday, according to S&P Global Platts data, amid a lack of product as the poor crush margins have forced plants to close or slow down production.

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Platts assessed the New Orleans CIF DDGS barge market for April 2020 shipment at $239/st, and the Chicago FOB DDGS market for April delivery at $206/st.

The assessments were the highest on record, well above the last DDGS rally, which topped on May 24, 2018, at $225/st for CIF NOLA in barges for the then current shipping month, and at $193/st for FOB Chicago in trucks for the then current delivery month.

In the summer of 2018, DDGS values rose as there was a shortage of soybean meal in Argentina and there was optimism that the US and China will resume trade talks and could remove the antidumping and anti-subsidy import duties imposed by China since September 2016, sources said.

Meanwhile, production has dropped over the last few weeks and there were talks of more plants closing or slowing production due to the negative margins amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, the high relative value of DDGS to corn has kept buyers away, with end-users taking out DDGS from the feed ration the best they can.

With the lack of product, the market was very thin, with no trades, no sellers and just a few buyers. "Worst day I have seen in a while," a market participant said.

DDGS is a co-product of ethanol production and used for livestock feed in feedlots.