U.S. grain sorghum exports have already surpassed the 2014 annual total just 4 months into the marketing year.
The sorghum market, both domestically and internationally, has steadily increased within the last 5 years.
Sorghum demand is at an all-time high with export bushels at 237.4 million – 12% higher than 2014 sales, according to Sorghum Checkoff data.
The export sector accounted for 30 percent of the U.S. grain sorghum market 5 years ago. At that time, Mexico was the largest importer, committing to approximately 973,042 bushels of grain sorghum weekly. The 2013 sorghum exports skyrocketed when Gun Jen Juee Agriculture Trading Company became the first company to import U.S. sorghum into China.
“I think with rapid growth in the Chinese feed industry, sorghum is a promising feed material for our company,” said Paul Huang, Gun Jen Juee marketing manager. “The cost of grain sorghum is competitive and the nutrition is high for livestock feed production.”
Prior to Gun Jen Juee purchasing U.S. grain sorghum, there was no market for the crop in China. Last year alone, Gun Jen Juee imported approximately 1.5 million tons of sorghum, and they anticipate imports to continue increasing.
“They saw a large import margin and high nutritional value, so they brought in sorghum,” Brian Lohmar, director of the U.S. Grains Council office in China, said.. “I think the big surprise was it went from 0 to 118 million bushels in a year.”
While China went from importing seemingly no grain to being the largest importer of U.S. grain sorghum, the U.S. Grains Council in cooperation with the Sorghum Checkoff is striving to maintain a permanent market in China for livestock feed and human consumption.
“We’re hoping the businesses that market themselves with high quality pork will start to see sorghum as a way to improve pork quality,” Lohmar said.
The booming success of the Chinese demand for U.S. grain sorghum has helped growers in terms of basis and viability. Establishing a more permanent market in China will lead to a more diverse market and long-term producer profitability.
The ethanol industry’s use of grain sorghum is also a value-added market. Approximately 36 plants across the U.S. have utilized grain sorghum in ethanol production. Nearly 336 million gallons of ethanol were produced annually over the last five years, saving consumers an average of $3.1 billion at the pump each year.