USGC Crop Quality Tour Promotes Sales To International Customers

The fact that the United States had abundant and high-quality corn and sorghum harvests last fall is no secret, and buyers and end-users around the world are seeking more information about the quality and availability of these grains for export.  

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has been busy supplying answers to these questions, offering accurate and timely information through seminars on the Council's 2016/2017 corn and sorghum harvest quality reports, which detail new data on grade factors, physical factors and chemical composition. 

Meetings Happening Globally 

In a series of conferences, seminars and one-on-one meetings around the world focused on these reports, USGC delegations are presenting their results, giving a full review of the global grain supply and demand situation and offering opportunities for buyers to engage directly with Council staff, agribusiness members and farmers. 

The meetings are annual events that international buyers and customers of U.S. corn and sorghum value. For example, more than 140 local buyers and industry representatives attended the USGC conference Japan. And in Mexico, a top market for all U.S. feed grains, the sorghum and corn quality meetings were particularly popular this year.

“The rollouts attracted record attendance from more than 75 percent of the largest importers of our products,” said Heidi Bringenberg, assistant director of the USGC Mexico office. “The audience was actively engaged with U.S. producers on questions regarding how weather affects quality, costs of production and plans for future record crop years.” 

In Colombia, USGC conducted eight presentations in four cities in less than a week. This packed agenda resulted in U.S. corn and sorghum quality information reaching importers who account for more than 157 million bushels (4 million metric tons) of U.S. corn imports annually. 

“Sophisticated importers are adjusting their import strategies based on what they learn during these quality reports,” said Luis Bustamante, USGC marketing specialist for the Western Hemisphere. 

Benefits Beyond Quality 

The crop quality report rollout meetings also facilitate discussions with local government officials. In Japan, visiting USGC officers and staff leaders joined local staff members in conversations about the reports’ results with JA Zennoh and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). In Taiwan, the visiting delegation and local staff members met with local grain importers and Taiwan Council of Agriculture Minister Chi-Hung Tsao. 

The dialogue prompted by the quality report rollout series opens the door to discuss other issues in the market such as trade policy implications and new market opportunities that may have arisen recently. For example, the Council organized a roadshow that visited six cities in Southeast Asia to offer the quality report information, promote U.S. corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and address local trade policy issues that affect U.S. feed grain access. 

Participants most appreciate the perspectives of U.S. farmers who travel abroad to attend these crop quality meetings. 

“The benefit of having U.S. producers on these types of missions cannot be understated,” Bringenberg said. “U.S. farmers take great pride in their product and the combination of their enthusiasm and confidence in their ability to supply their global customers with high-quality feed ingredients makes them highly effective trade ambassadors.” 

For example, she said, having a U.S. farmer present about the care and attention invested into producing each year’s crop opens the eyes of international buyers to farmers' innovations and focus on quality.

Next Up: Export Cargo Quality Report 

These harvest quality reports provide valuable information about the quality of U.S. corn and sorghum to the point of unloading at a local grain elevator. To dive deeper, the Council will publish an additional report on U.S. corn quality as the crop is assembled for export, available sometime in April. 

“Both the harvest quality and the export cargo quality reports published for U.S. corn and sorghum crops are part of the commitment by Council and our members to provide the most transparent and timely information about the U.S. grain industry on an annual basis," said Kurt Shultz, USGC senior director of global strategies.

The full 2016/2017 Corn Harvest Quality Report is available here, and the 2016/2017 Sorghum Harvest Quality Report is here.