Oct. 18, 2013, is a day that will go down in history as the first-ever bulk shipment of U.S. grain sorghum to China berthed and began unloading.
U.S Grains Council staff, representatives of buyers and sellers, port officials and a U.S. government representative were on hand to celebrate the unloading and witness this historical event in the growing U.S.-China agricultural trade relationship.
The shipment of 60,000 metric tons (2.36 million bushels) is designated for animal feed and demonstrates the continuing modernization of China’s feed industry. “China’s sophisticated feed industry has the capacity to explore different feed ingredients and evaluate their effectiveness in a highly competitive environment,” said Bryan Lohmar, USGC director in China.
“The Council believes U.S. sorghum has significant potential to become a regular feed ingredient in China. Sorghum imports from the United States can help keep food prices low and improve China’s overall food security.”
With several more cargos on the way, Council sources indicate China could purchase a significant share of the 2013 U.S. crop. “As of this month there are approximately 20 Panamax vessels sold of U.S. sorghum to China, which represents around 1.1 to 1.2 million tons (43.3 to 47.2 million bushels),” said Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade.
“Traders estimate the 2013/14 crop year should register sales of 1.6 million tons (63 million bushels) or more.”
Restrictions on corn imports through China’s tariff rate quota are providing a prime opportunity for the Council to help China’s feed industry and livestock producers seek a wider variety of options, including U.S. sorghum.
In September, the Council, along with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, provided technical seminars and assistance to help the industry understand the nutritional value of sorghum, how to incorporate it into feed formulations and the potential for future sorghum export supplies from the United States.
One local Chinese trader said in an interview last week that these programs are directly attributable to the rapid development of the sorghum market in China. “With China’s meat consumption growing and subsequent growth in feed demand, the United States is in a unique position, both in its capacity to produce and its variety of products, to respond and meet China’s feed grain needs,” said Julius Schaaf, USGC chairman.
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