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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2003 8:38 pm 
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We want to use molasses. The feed store will supply us for about $10/#50 and they are local. Marshall Grain charges $15/#50 and they are 80 miles from me.

I am wondering if the products are comparable. Are there any differences in ingredients, suppliers or companies that bag molasses?

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Last edited by Pamzilla on Mon Sep 29, 2003 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: dry molasses
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 2:38 am 
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I have found the same thing. Feed stores are very reasonable - $10.00 is what I am paying - but the garden centers are beyond belief for the same labeled bag.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 11:40 am 
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Molasses is a commodity item, like orange juice. You don't know what conditions the oranges were grown in nor do you know exactly where the molasses came from. We buy in 55 gal drums and our supplier said he has several regular sources but often buys off the market. I would go with the feed store.
Tony M


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 8:24 pm 
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As Tony wrote, liquid molasses is a commodity item and, as such, is graded according to "quality." The higher the quality grade, the higher the price at the wholesale level. Prices at retail for the same grade can vary for lots of reasons, but differences in wholesale prices of a given grade at a given time from a given sugarcane supply source (domestic vs. import) are caused most by shipping costs/distance from the mills. Dry livestock feed molasses product can vary in wholesale price for things as simple as the expertise of the mill's feed ingredient merchandiser and volume shipping rates, so I wouldn't say that more expensive necessarily always means higher "quality" within the same quality grade. Assuming that dry livestock feed molasses makers all use the cheapest possible substrate, the gardener wanting to use dry molasses probably is relegated to comparing the imprecise nutrient labels. That assumes that some toxic waste or undesirable product hasn't entered the raw material stream somewhere.

Dry molasses product for livestock feed use usually is made with blackstrap, which means it is from the last cane boil and it contains the lowest total solids, lowest total sugars, highest total ash, and highest total sulfites of the molasses grades. All things being equal, dry livestock feed molasses probably is sulfured because it derives from cheaper green cane (sulfur compounds are used to enhance extraction from green cane). If green cane isn't available to the mill at a given time, the product may be unsulfured. There is a considerable taste difference between last boil (blackstrap) and first boil (fancy) molasses, owing mostly to the difference in total sugars and possibly the different ratios of reducing sugars (glucose, fructose, etc.) to sucrose in the product. Blackstrap usually has a fairly bitter taste. I believe the liquid molasses used for a typical feed ingredient dry molasses product (which most likely is a roughage product such as ground corncobs or straw coated with liquid blackstrap) runs about 43% total sugars and maybe about 80% Brix solids. That liquid product currently runs about $63/ton (171 gallons) in tank car lots basis FOB Houston and maybe an average of $57/ton basis New Orleans. I don't know a current price for wholesale fancy molasses, but it usually is a lot more. The intermediate grades are correspondingly more expensive than blackstrap.

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 Post subject: molasses
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2003 11:13 pm 
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TMI - to much information - I am kidding, but you just convienced me to not use molasses in the tubs. I have thought for some time that it didn't look right and tasted funny when I had some on my hands. The cows can live with out this stuff.
When I mentioned the feed store dry molasses compared to garden center, I failed to mention that they were exactly the same, same bag, and same ingredients.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2003 8:20 am 
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A couple of more points to complete the loop for the broader audience. Feed stores can or do charge less for the same bagged product than a garden store might for a variety of reasons. Feed stores do/are accustomed to/have to work on thinner margins, due partly to lower overhead, partly to customer demands, and partly to the need for fast turnover of product with limited shelf life (mostly due to insect issues and, for processed products, rancidity concerns). Also, they routinely work with high(er) volume shipments, so it doesn't cost much more to have a distributor toss on an extra 20 bags of a product that the distributor stocks anyway. Feed stores usually have large storage space, so competition for shelf/display space isn't an much of an issue. Garden stores are the opposite on most of those points, and that drives up their unit retail prices.

As for dry molasses product for livestock feed, I would expect a manufacturer to monitor batches for "quality" (palatability, physical consistency/clumping, texture, appearance, and aroma). I also would expect the manufacturer to add ingredients as needed to adjust any low quality issues. As a result, it wouldn't surprise me if a manufacturer added a little corn syrup, sugar, or something else to bump the acceptability of the occasional sub-standard batch. Livestock aren't as picky as people, so palatability for the end user often is a flexible issue. That may tend to drive the ingredients to the lowest common denominator. Most of this probably doesn't affect the gardener much unless the ingredient stream is contaminated with toxics or environmentally unfriendly materials. That said, the production of molasses usually is not an environmentally friendly process. :(

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2003 10:46 am 
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I agree with Robert, TOO MUCH INFORMATION. But I also agree that it was VERY welcome information! Thanks for the post. I just don't want to be tested in it :D :shock:

My observation on dry molasses is that you get a bag with 49 pounds of corn cob trash and 1 pound of molasses. I could be off by a pound either way, but to me that isn't a deal.

Farm co-ops sell it by the pound. They will quote you today's price just like you are exchanging dollars for pesos. Last price I heard was $0.09 per pound. A gallon weighs 10.5 pounds. So a 55-gallon drum (575 pounds) would cost about $52.00, but you have to bring the drum.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2003 12:36 pm 
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Dchall_San_Antonio wrote:
My observation on dry molasses is that you get a bag with 49 pounds of corn cob trash and 1 pound of molasses. I could be off by a pound either way, but to me that isn't a deal.

Farm co-ops sell it by the pound. They will quote you today's price just like you are exchanging dollars for pesos. Last price I heard was $0.09 per pound. A gallon weighs 10.5 pounds. So a 55-gallon drum (575 pounds) would cost about $52.00, but you have to bring the drum.


I believe you're right about the liquid being a far better deal if one can buy it in bulk and if one has a way to apply it. It would be great to coat grain meal, oil seed meal, alfalfa meal, or lava sand with liquid molasses and then spread the coated material, but I don't think it's as easy as it sounds. Maybe someone on the forum has experimented with that idea, perhaps by diluting the molasses.

There should be some seasonality to liquid molasses prices, with the lowest prices typically coming at harvest time. The Lousiana cane mills have just started molasses processing for this year, so one would expect to see the lowest wholesale prices somewhere in the Oct-Dec time period. I imagine most mills run on natural gas, so gas price in relation to cold northern weather could affect the later part of that time period unless the mills hedge or forward contract their gas purchases (which they probably do). The beet molasses mills also should be in production about now. Most retail buyers will not have much choice of where they buy their liquid molasses, but I still would be on the lookout for diluted material. Product density will vary among grades, but 10 gallons of water in a barrel of molasses could be a profit kicker for the unscrupulous dealer. For those that live in the southern U.S., their wholesale blackstrap products probably come from the South, particularly Lousiana. There could be some Mexican source in there also, especially in the southwest and California. For those that live in the northern U.S. or Canada, the sources are more likely from Canada mills or from Plains states sugar beet processors. Supply origins probably shake out according to shipping costs most of the time. That's about it on the molasses topic, except to say that Dancing Deer Baking Company in Boston makes about the best molasses clove cookies I've ever tasted. They're hard to resist. :wink:

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