Expanding Sorghum in Pet Food Use

Sorghum use in niche, high-value markets continues to expand in recent months thanks to the efforts of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program and U.S. Grains Council. Trade missions were recently conducted in Kansas and Mexico to promote the inclusion of sorghum in pet food, a growing market for producers. The missions were organized in an effort to share the nutritional and production benefits of utilizing sorghum in pet food, working to increase demand and producer profitability.

A group of eight delegates from Mexico visited Kansas August 14-16 to learn about sorghum's benefits in pet nutrition programs. In conjunction with the Collaborative Sorghum Investment Program and the Kansas Sorghum Commission, the group participated in a full-day workshop at the International Grains Program and toured facilities at CJ Foods, Inc., and Lortscher Animal Nutrition. These meetings provided an opportunity to expand trade relationships with Mexico, specifically targeting pet food markets, in addition to educating the group on production and logistics.

"Sorghum offers numerous nutritional benefits to pet food, such as a low glycemic index compared to corn and rice-based diets, that consumers are looking for when they buy pet food," said Doug Bice, Sorghum Checkoff market development director. "Pet food is a growing market for U.S. sorghum producers, and interest in the grain's inclusion in pet nutrition continues to increase."

Following the tour in Kansas, a group of sorghum trade representatives visited Guadalajara, Mexico, August 23-26. The group shared milling information and inclusion considerations with several pet food manufacturing companies at the AMEPA pet food conference. AMEPA, the Mexican Association of Feed Producers, is a non-profit organization whose main objective is to represent and defend the interests of the feed producers industry, integrated livestock producers, pet food and the national agriculture industry. AMEPA members account for an annual consumption of 6.9 million tons of coarse grains and 2.3 million tons of oilseeds.

"Sorghum use in domestic pet food production has grown extensively over the past couple of years, and now we are looking to expand the market internationally," Bice said. "Meeting with manufacturers and industry representatives in Mexico is a great first step to introducing sorghum into this new market."

Sorghum use continues to grow in new marketplaces internationally, providing new opportunities for U.S. producers. The high value placed on including sorghum in pet food can have a ripple affect over all sorghum production, increasing demand and value across markets. The Sorghum Checkoff continues to expand sorghum use internationally, marketing the grain's numerous, versatile qualities to potential markets.