For the above reasons, the price of still age applied to crops oscillates considerably. In certain cases, the FOB price of the product may even be a negative one, meaning that the distillery is actually paying to get the product removed from its plant.
The cost of product, applied to crops, may be fairly high, depending on the distance from the distillery to the point of application, the time of year and the characteristics of the still age. In France and Germany, 90% of the concentrated still age is marketed. On certain occasions, concentrated still age has been exported from France to England, whereas, on others, France has imported from both, Germany and Italy, for use as fertilizer. The importance of the market for still age as fertilizer, in France, appears to be connected with the particular agricultural structure prevailing there. In other words, the crops on which application of concentrated still age has given the best results appear to be grapes, citrous fruits, tobacco, asparagus and hogs, which are more highly developed in France than in other European countries. The Netherlands produces about 100,000 tonnes of concentrated still age a year, and Belgium 80,000 tonnes. In these two countries, practically the entire output goes to the feed industry. Quantities incorporated vary from 2% by weight in rations for poultry, to 3.
4% for hogs and 10-15% for ruminants. Although the market for concentrated still age, in the feed sector, has remained firm with an upward trend, it is believed that, in future, it will develop more along the lines of increased competition in the fertilizer market than in that of cereals, as proteins of vegetal origin are used as feed ingredients since they are renewable. In the Netherlands, for instance, it is anticipated that the most economical solution to the stillage problem, in future, will be concentration up to 50% TS, followed by incineration for recovery of potassium ash. The Federal Republic of Germany produces about 100,000 tonnes of concentrated stillage a year, 50% which is exported to other European countries. The remainder is used within the country as an ingredient for rations and for special applications. In Italy, 40% of the output is exported to France. There is a producer of powdered-beet- molasses still age that competes with ECF from sugarcane molasses produced by National Chemical Products (NCP) in South Africa. A substantial proportion of the Italian output is incinerated, whereas the still age from fermentation and distillation of pear and apple mashes is centrifuged.
The sludge formed in this operation is used locally as fertilizer. In England, the market is small, amounting to some 60,000 tonnes per year, of which 40,000 tonnes are imported from the continent to be used in rations and as fertilizer. In Europe, it would appear that use of concentrated still age as a feed ingredient has already reached the market limit. Hence, all increases in production may be expected to be used as fertilizer. The availability of concentrated still age in Europe remained stable at levels from 150,000 to 180,000 tonnes a year, until 1972.
From 1972 to 1976, supply grew at a uniform rate. The projected figure for 1980 is one million tonnes, while France and Italy should continue being the two major producing countries. It may be noted that, even if the supply of concentrated still age reaches the level forecast, it will still amount to only 2% of the rations supply and will be equivalent, at most, to 13% of formulated ration’s (containing up to 15% concentrated still age). Even assuming that all the concentrated still age used in rations and that the low level of participation would indicate high market potential, cost and quality factors would nevertheless seem to suggest that the participation of concentrated still age in the European feed market will not rise.