Chinese Buyers Visit Sorghum Operations in Texas and Kansas

A team of next generation Chinese merchandisers from several agriculture and commodity trading companies visited Texas and Kansas June 20-July 1. The group, who represent more than 50 percent of China's total sorghum imports from the U.S., visited grain elevators, farms, ethanol plants and export facilities to discuss purchasing sorghum for export to China through hands-on education about sorghum production, marketing, export logistics and available options.

"China is a strong presence in the sorghum export market for U.S. producers," said Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez. "We spend this time educating visitors on U.S. sorghum quality, condition, logistics and price so they are able to make informed purchasing decisions."

The group started their visit meeting with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) in Corpus Christi, Texas, along with representatives from the Port of Corpus Christi. Traveling south, the team stopped at Sorghum Checkoff board director Jim Massey's farm to see how the sorghum crop was progressing this year throughout the Coastal Bend and to learn how sorghum producers market their crop.

The team also toured the new facilities at the Port of Brownsville in Brownsville, Texas, recently acquired by West Plains, LLC. The Chinese were able to learn about price differences between loading vessels at different ports and how export facilities differ in their acquisition and sale of sorghum grain. The team of buyers also discussed container shipping, vessel capacity, price and timing of sorghum grain sales for this year.

"We partner with the U.S. Grains Council and other sorghum businesses such as elevators and export facilities to provide trade teams with as much information about our sorghum industry as possible," Lopez said. "Our hope is that this education and time spent fostering relationships will lead to increased sorghum exports and will increase opportunities for U.S. sorghum farmers."

After visiting operations in Texas, the team traveled north to Manhattan, Kansas, and spent time with the International Grains Program (IGP Institute) at Kansas State University. Representatives from the IGP Institute discussed sorghum production, marketing, USDA grain standards, grain inspection, export contracts and risk management.

China is the number one importer of U.S. sorghum with 276 million bushels imported in the 2015/2016 marketing year, and this two-week tour allowed hands-on learning experiences for the group while allowing producers and businesses to foster important relationships with buyers. This visit is one of many important opportunities created by the Sorghum Checkoff and U.S. Grains Council to continue valuable trade relationships with China. 

chinese trade team