China Trade Team Sets Sights on U.S. Sorghum

A team of six top Chinese sorghum importers and feed-millers visited the U.S. July 16-26. This visit was a collaboration of efforts between the Sorghum Checkoff, the U.S. Grains Council, the Texas Grain Sorghum Association and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission to educate buyers about U.S. sorghum production, uses and strategies and provide the tools necessary to make better purchasing decisions. During the visit, the team was able to further develop and strengthen relationships with U.S. suppliers, which will encourage more sorghum sales to China following trade challenges in early 2018.

“Importing grain from the international market can be an impersonal experience," said Bryan Lohmar, Director of the U.S. Grains Council office in China. "Coming to the U.S. to meet producers and better understand the marketing system and the various players involved helps importers visualize and appreciate where their products are coming from. Such activities also help build relationships and information exchanges, assisting both sides in managing risk and developing mutually-beneficial outcomes.”

The team comprised of company representatives whose imports account for more than 50 percent of China's total U.S. sorghum imports. The tour consisted of several visits to sorghum farms, ethanol plants, and local elevators, which allowed the importers to learn more about the sorghum value chain.

"The U.S. farmer produces the highest quality sorghum in the world," said Shelee Padgett, Sorghum Checkoff regional director. "During these tours of the Sorghum Belt, we make sure to highlight sorghum's nutritional qualities, U.S. production methods, quality, price and our superior export logistics."

The first week consisted of stops in Texas including several sorghum fields in Waxahachie and Snook, the Port of Houston and concluded with a tour of the Federal Grain Inspection Service. The team also had dinner at Wayne Cleveland's house, Texas Grain Sorghum Association Executive Director, where Cleveland and his wife served several dishes including sorghum as an ingredient. The team then headed to Kansas where they talked one-on-one with several growers, visited a grain marketing company and toured Kansas Ethanol in Lyons, Kansas. Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission staff  traveled with the team and coordinated several visits with local producers.

China remains a top customer for U.S. sorghum accounting for $868 million in exports, equating to 4.8 million metric tons (189 million bushels), during the 2016-2017 marketing year. Utilizing these efforts, the Sorghum Checkoff will continue to explore and grow opportunities for U.S. sorghum in the global marketplace.

Buyers at Billy Cannon Farms

Florentino Lopez with a Trade Team Member