The new owner of the Ensus wheat ethanol plant took a swipe at plans to clampdown on crop-based biofuels as it revealed that it was to sell fuel from the UK-based site to Scandinavia, as well as the domestic market.
CropEnergies, which in July bought Ensus from investors including private equity giant Carlyle Group, warned that European Union plans to constrain use of food crops in making ethanol could lead to "waste tourism", as manufacturers seek raw materials deemed to have better sustainability credentials.
And it warned that implementing EU regulations as currently proposed, constraining to 5% of transport energy use coming from grain, sugar oilseeds, would also "pose the risk of much less protein animal feed being produced".
The manufacture of ethanol from grain produces distillers' grains, a high protein feed ingredient, as a residue.
The limits on distillers' grains "would mean that the already existing protein deficit would have to be covered by further soy imports, mainly from South America", German-based CropEnergies said.
"The European bioethanol industry considers the draft directive to be a grave step backwards for European energy and climate protection policy," CropEnergies said, urging that food crops and waste products be treated the same in the bloc's environmental accounting regime.
The comments came as CropEnergies unveiled a 65% tumble to E5.33m in earnings for the June-to-August quarter.
While revenues rose 16.6% to E185.9m, this was largely down selling down stocks - production dropped 6.9% to 176,000 cubic metres thanks to the flood damage at the Zeitz plant in Germany.
Meanwhile, rising raw material costs crimped margins, with the group unable to repeat the benefit it achieved a year ago when selling prices rose at a time when it had hedged early its raw material costs.
The group stood by its target of revenue growth of 10-20% for the year to the end of February, and of operating profits coming in at E40m-50m, down from E87m a year before.
The drop in profits reflects in part the costs associated with getting the Ensus site, one of Europe's biggest wheat ethanol plants, back online after a stop-start record under Carlyle, which lost heavily on its investment.
CropEnergies said that Ensus, with capacity to consume more than 1m tonnes of grain a year, would "now also allow CropEnergies to supply Scandinavian destinations [with ethanol] at favourable freight costs", besides the UK's own market, the EU's third largest.
Ensus was built close to port, seen as an advantage in allowing easy access to imported wheat as well should UK supplies become scarce or expensive.
CropEnergies' results were welcomed by DZ Bank, which raised to E7.50 from E6.50 its target price for the group's shares, with a "buy" rating.
The shares stood unchanged at E6.22 in lunchtime deals in Frankfurt.