International grain buyers from eight countries who are currently purchasing or are interested in U.S. grain sorghum attended the Export Sorghum conference last week in Grapevine, Texas. More than 60 participants from China, Mexico, Myanmar, Philippines, Morocco, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Japan and the U.S, attended the event held by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program in coordination with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board.
“The Sorghum Checkoff was pleased to host Export Sorghum and provide resources to our growers, customers and other industry representatives,” said Florentino Lopez, Sorghum Checkoff executive director. “Attendee numbers this year exploded, and we are excited to see so much growth and enthusiasm surrounding U.S. sorghum.”
Along with creating networking opportunities, the conference also provided domestic and international grain buyers insight on sorghum markets, trade opportunities, contract education, logistics and sorghum production, while also providing buyers with information to help them make sorghum the smart choice for their feed or food grain solutions.
“One of our main goals at Export Sorghum is to showcase the versatility of sorghum across different marketplaces and applications,” said Shelee Padgett, Sorghum Checkoff regional director. “We also want to provide value by creating an avenue for farmers, buyers and sellers to have one-on-one conversations and establish working relationships.”
While at an Export Sorghum cooking demonstration, a Japanese team, focused on using sorghum for human consumption, got to sample a sorghum dish prepared by registered dietitian nutritionist, Sharon Palmer.
“This experience of tasting sorghum and learning how to prepare it greatly increases buyer confidence and we have seen increased interest in sorghum for specialty markets such as consumer food in foreign markets like Japan,” said Doug Bice, Sorghum Checkoff market development director.
In addition to the cooking demonstration, three animal nutritionists, a sorghum geneticist and the CEO of an ethanol plant discussed the various uses of sorghum for animal feed, pet food and ethanol production.
This year, Export Sorghum, which was founded in 2014 by the Sorghum Checkoff, doubled in attendance.
“Recently, the Sorghum Checkoff board of directors adopted a new strategic plan with a heavier focus on market development, so we followed their lead and brought in a more diverse group of buyers to Export Sorghum this year,” Bice said.
Prior to and following the conference, several teams also toured parts of the U.S. where they witnessed sorghum production and the value chain firsthand.
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