International Sorghum Markets Seek to Expand in China

The Sorghum Checkoff recently explored growing export markets for U.S. sorghum producers in China. Jim Massey, Sorghum Checkoff board director, and Florentino Lopez, Sorghum Checkoff executive director, traveled to China September 18-23 to promote the use of sorghum in various industries. The trip highlighted sorghum's nutritional qualities, U.S. production, quality, price and export logistics.

Kicking off their week-long trip with the U.S. Grains Council, Massey and Lopez met with Chinese importers about their operations and needs for U.S. sorghum in the coming year. They also presented information at the 2017 JCI Conference on Chinese Feed Raw Materials Market. More than 600 manufacturers, end users, feed mills and industry professionals participated in the conference, learning about the benefits of U.S. sorghum.

"The knowledge we share between producer and end user not only educates both sides but also creates a level of trust, placing a name and face with an otherwise meaningless number on a spreadsheet," Massey said. "This trip went a long way to foster lasting relationships with the people who play a major role in our sorghum exports."

In addition to meeting with industry professionals, the group also visited with Jiang Nan University to learn more about the use of sorghum in baijiu. Baijiu is a popular Chinese alcoholic beverage primarily made with sorghum and other grains. The group met with faculty and researchers from the fermentation and flavor sciences department who will conduct a research study funded by the Sorghum Checkoff. The research will examine different formulations and processes for creating baijiu with U.S. sorghum varieties, comparing the effect of U.S. sorghum to domestic Chinese sorghum in the distilling process.

"It was very fulfilling to meet face-to-face with the researchers who will carry out our funded project," Massey said. "Watching the project move from an initial proposal to now seeing the project come to life is great assurance that it has potential to open a new market for U.S. sorghum producers."

Another market explored on the international trip was the inclusion of sorghum in aquaculture nutrition programs. The Sorghum Checkoff and U.S. Grains Council visited with HAID Group who recently completed a duck feeding trial with sorghum. Preliminary results show success for sorghum in the trial, and more details on the study will be made available as the report is finalized.

"I believe trips like this are vitally important to the growth of the sorghum industry," Massey said. "The knowledge of what happens outside of the farm gate impacts the decisions I make in my operation and provides a level of understanding for supply and demand in our growing sorghum markets that I would not have otherwise."


Meeting with JunJie Agriculture Trading Co. Ltd.

Jiang Nan University

Meeting at Jiang Nan University

Jim Massey JCI

Jim Massey presenting at JCI