Promotion Leads to Sorghum Success in Colombia, China

The Council’s successful U.S. sorghum promotion work this year highlighted the importance of both cultivating major market participants and diversifying farmers’ customer base through relationship building and information sharing.

China’s recent record imports of U.S. sorghum, which rose to 8.3 million metric tons (326.7 million bushels) in the 2014/2015 marketing year, has roots in work started more than 30 years ago when the Council first began its promotion of U.S. sorghum in that market.

In 2011, with the help of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), the Council was able to reinvigorate programs there and generate new interest in the product, resulting in the first bulk shipment arriving in October of 2013.

Though China has been dominant in the sorghum market, finding new customers for U.S. sorghum has also been a critical part of the Council’s work.

One example of success is in Colombia, where USGC promotion efforts for U.S. sorghum included inviting buyers to the Council’s Regional Buyers Conference, holding animal nutrition seminars and bringing a trade team of Colombian end-users to the United States to learn more about purchasing U.S. sorghum and incorporating it into animal rations.

This work helped to overcome local misperceptions about the commodity and eventually led to Colombia importing 23,000 tons (905,464 bushels) of sorghum, almost filling its tariff rate quota (TRQ), near the end of 2015.

These purchases of U.S. sorghum happened just as the Council rolled out its first-ever Sorghum Early Harvest Quality Report. Like the Council’s annual Corn Harvest Quality Report, the sorghumfocused report provided accurate and transparent information to help international buyers understand the initial quality of the U.S. crop as it entered merchandising channels. In markets like Colombia and China, the new sorghum report was used to highlight the excellent quality of U.S. sorghum and promote future sales.