Sorghum Industry Rallies Around Export Program

The U.S. Grains Council used Agriculture Trade Promotion (ATP) program funds to host Export Sorghum 2019 in conjunction with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission (KGSC) and the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers (TGSP), resulting in wider awareness among global buyers of the benefits and purchasing procedures for U.S. sorghum. 

In 2019, sorghum exports suffered due to an ongoing trade dispute with China, a market that is crucial for the sorghum sector. That said, there was a welcome increase in shipments to other markets, keeping exports supported at 2.8 million metric tons—a value of over $527 million. Export Sorghum 2019 played a key role in ensuring that a diversity of markets consider sorghum in their purchasing decisionshelping to protect sorghum growers from the economic effects of the fallout with China.  

Export Sorghum was part of an ongoing effort to continue to promote demand internationally for U.S. sorghum. The event was a one-day, educational conference in Dallas, Texas, at which 65 buyers from eight countries learned more about sorghum markets, trade opportunities, contract negotiation, logistics, and U.S. sorghum production. In addition to these market-based discussions, three nutritionists and a dietician discussed the various uses of sorghum for human nutrition, animal feed and pet food, in addition to conducting a cooking demonstration. 

Before and after the event in Dallas, the Council used a combination of Emerging Markets Program (EMP), Section 108 and Market Access Program (MAP) funding to host teams on tours of the sorghum value chain throughout the United States.  

A large Mexican delegation was able to meet with U.S.-based cooperatives to further work on direct sales. The Chinese delegation met with a genetics specialist from Texas A&M University to discuss the demand for waxy sorghum in the baijiu industry, part of another ATP project. There was a Filipino delegation to follow up on prior successes in engaging some of the largest feed millers in the Philippines in a sorghum feeding trial. A Japanese team was able to evaluate the nutritional aspects of sorghum in the human diet, while also inspecting many lesser known varieties of sorghum with varying dietary properties. 

The Council’s strong partnership with the sorghum industry helped make this event possible. USCP, TGSP and KGSC all contributed to the conference and the trade teams, helping support the Council’s programs to ensure stability in sorghum exports during 2019 and beyond.