US sorghum group seeks to expand market, footprint in Mexico

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/melcowell
© iStock/melcowell

Related tags International trade

US sorghum producers are setting their sights on expanding relationships and markets for the feed grain in Mexico after visiting poultry, swine and cattle producers there, says industry representative.  

The group, which included US sorghum producers from Texas and Kansas and was funded by the US Grains Council and United Sorghum Checkoff Program, returned earlier this month.

The neighboring country offers a strong market for the feed grain, said Brent Crafton regional director for United Sorghum Checkoff Program and a member of the delegation.

“Mexico has been a long standing buyer of sorghum,”​ he told FeedNavigator. The country offers the second largest market globally for the feed grain.

The primary market is China, but in 2015/16, Mexico purchased about 23.9m bushels of the feed ingredient, said the US Grains Council.

Production of the feed crop has dropped in recent years with about 8.4m acres planted in 2015/16 falling to a projection of about 5.8m acres being planted in 2017/18, said the USDA​. Corresponding to the reduction in acres, the amount exported also has dwindled.

The total estimated exports for 2016/17 were 225m bushels, and the amount exported in 2015/16 was 339m bushels, said the department.

“Part of the objectives was to promote US sorghum in general and to increase exports to Mexico,”​ said Crafton.

Market focus and expansion

In addition to renewing ties with producers, and internal feed and grain merchandisers, the trip was a way to expand the footprint for the feed grain, said Crafton.

The project’s goals included efforts to establish new relationships with potential buyers and to refresh connections with past and current purchasers of the feed grain, he said. “It’s both enhancing the use through the producers and end users and developing relationships with new regions – regions that we hadn’t had the chance to visit with before,”​ he added.

Of particular interest on the trip was speaking to representatives from Sonora, a region in northwestern Mexico, he said. The goal was to expand the use of the imported feed grain in that location.

“The Sonora region was kind of a new opportunity,”​ he said. Working with the pork and poultry producers unions also helped establish new relationships, he added.

Group members also met with livestock producers who work with swine and poultry production and who raise beef cattle or have dairy facilities.

“They’re receptive to US sorghum,”​ said Crafton. “They know it’s of the highest quality.”

Exports of the feed grain do not face many challenges reaching different regions of the country, he said. Multiple transportation pathways have been established to provide the ingredient to different parts of the country.

“If you’re on the eastern side or western side [there are] – opportunities there for vessel imports, and if you’re in the northern half you can do rail [travel] and the truck market is good,” ​he said. “If you get to Sonora, they can do pretty much do rail or vessel.”

Continuing ties

In addition to the recently completed trip, the Sorghum Checkoff has made such visits previously, said Crafton. “We work closely with the US Grains Council, and they help to organize many of these trips,”​ he said.

The program also hosts visiting trade teams from Mexico on a repeating basis, he said.

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