WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — A strong projected rebound in U.S. sorghum production is boosting U.S. export potential for a crop coming off a succession of lean years, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) said on July 26. 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects U.S. sorghum production at 10.03 million tonnes (395 million bushels) for the upcoming harvest year. This is a significant improvement in production over the last five years, including last year's 6.2 million tonne (244 million bushels) harvest. According to the USGC, this significant increase in production underscores the importance of the export market.
"With USDA's significantly improved production estimate, combined with the good to excellent sorghum crop currently being harvested, now is a prime time to market this product around the world," said Kimberly Karst, USGC director of global programs. "Our international customers need to be reminded of the quality nutritional characteristics U.S. sorghum offers and the increase in availability we will have this coming marketing year."
The council recently escorted a team of Japanese sorghum buyers and end-users throughout Texas and Kansas to get a firsthand look at the bountiful production, meet with U.S. sorghum traders and received updated nutritional information about the value of sorghum as a feed ingredient.
In Japan, the second largest U.S. importer of U.S. sorghum, price competition from other feed ingredients has depressed recent sales. Japan's total sorghum imports for feed use, declined from 2.6 million tonnes (102 million bushels) in 1997 to 1.6 million tonnes (63 million bushels) in 2012. U.S. feed sorghum imports, however, have decreased dramatically, from 2.07 million tonnes (81 million bushels) in 1997 to 109,000 tonnes (4.3 million bushels) in 2012. One major reason for the decline of sorghum demand was the loss of price advantage against other feed ingredients.
"The council is involved in providing information on nutritional advantages of sorghum," said Karst. "We want the Japanese feed industry to recognize sorghum not only as an ingredient substitute but as a nutritionally advantageous feed grain."
With increasing competition from Australia and Argentina, Karst said this program offered a valuable marketing and trade servicing opportunity.
"We are hopeful this program will result in increased awareness of the export capacity of U.S. sorghum, the value of sorghum as a feed ingredient and the U.S. commitment to the export market."
This program was implemented in collaboration with the Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Texas Grains Sorghum Producers Association, the Kansas Grains Sorghum Commission and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.