Visiting Chinese Team Reinforces Demand For U.S. Sorghum

The Chinese sorghum team at Jim Massey's farm in Robstown, Texas. Photo Credit: United Sorghum Checkoff Program
The Chinese sorghum team at Jim Massey's farm in Robstown, Texas. Photo Credit: United Sorghum Checkoff Program
The Chinese sorghum team at the IGP Institute in Manhattan, KS. Photo Credit: IGP Institute
The Chinese sorghum team at the IGP Institute in Manhattan, KS. Photo Credit: IGP Institute

A team representing the next generation of Chinese buyers of U.S. sorghum is traveling through Texas and Kansas this week to gain a better understanding of this year’s sorghum crop conditions and purchasing potential.

“The grain buyers on this team exemplify the future of U.S.-Chinese trade,” said Bryan Lohmar, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) director in China. “Facilitating their face-to-face discussions with U.S. sorghum farmers and grain traders is part of the Council’s continuous efforts to improve the understanding of grain sorghum as a valuable feed ingredient.”

The team, organized by the Council in conjunction with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), is an important part of efforts to further develop and strengthen the relationships between sorghum buyers in China and U.S. suppliers. Team members collectively represent more than 50 percent of Chinese imports of U.S. sorghum.

“Trade teams help increase familiarity with U.S. marketing and export logistics,” Lohmar said. “Connecting these leading importers with U.S. suppliers and discussing specific purchasing needs improves their ability to procure sorghum and expand its use in China.”

The team’s travel included visits to farmers' fields, feed mills, ethanol plants and grain elevators. In Texas, the team visited both the Port of Corpus Christi and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) station as well as local farmers and cooperatives.

In Kansas, the team met with sorghum traders and attended a training seminar at the IGP Institute in Manhattan, which covered the ins and outs of the U.S. grain production and marketing system, including how to navigate and negotiate grain contracts and use risk management tools. The team also visited U.S. sorghum producers on their farms as well as a grain elevator and an ethanol plant.

China is an influential market for U.S. sorghum and the top buyer of that grain so far this marketing year, purchasing 3.38 million tons (133 million bushels) from September to April. While these sales are down from last year at this time, Chinese purchases represent 77 percent of all U.S. sorghum exports in 2016/2017 and still far exceed purchases by any other trading partner, further emphasizing the need to continue interfacing with Chinese grain buyers.

“China not only has become the world’s largest customer for U.S. sorghum, it is expected to remain a key source of demand for the foreseeable future," Lohmar said.

Learn more about the Council’s work in China here.