Kansas, Nebraska host Mexican sorghum buyers
Hoping to create relationships between Mexican rail buyers and U.S. elevators, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program recently helped the U.S. Grains Council host a sorghum-focused trade mission in Kansas and Nebraska.
The mission's goal was to bring together potential Mexican buyers and U.S. sellers of grain sorghum and turn those relationships into sales opportunities. As part of the trade mission, 11 buyers visited a variety of elevators, grain processing sites and sorghum growers throughout Kansas and Nebraska.
"The Mexican visitors expressed an interest in buying direct from local cooperatives because they see the value in sourcing directly from a facility that is owned by producers," said Dusti Fritz, Western States Field Services Director for USCP. "The trade mission allows us to provide a first-hand view of the quality sorghum produced in the United States, from handling and storing to exporting. It's really all about developing a market opportunity."
Specific stops during the July 16 to 18 mission included: the Kansas City Board of Trade, Kansas City, Mo.; Kansas Grain Inspection Service, Topeka, Kan.; Lansing Trade Group, Overland Park; Kan.; Scoular, Omaha, Neb.; Harriman Dispatching Center, Omaha, Neb.; Lincoln Inspection Services, Lincoln, Neb.; AGP Grain Cooperative, Lincoln, Neb.; Farmers Coop, Dorchester, Neb.; and Aurora Cooperative Elevator Company, Aurora, Neb.
"Meeting the people who produce and export sorghum is very important," said Armando Casillas, of Avicola Cd. del Huevos (The City of Eggs), an egg production facility in Jalisco, Mexico, which imports about 25 percent of its sorghum needs.
"Since the United States is the largest exporter of grains, we need to travel here."
This was the fourth in a series of sorghum-focused trade missions conducted this summer, which included more than 20 Mexican buyers traveling to sorghum-related points of interest in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Nebraska. The tours provided a complete picture of the supply chain and helped demonstrate how the product is handled and prepared for export.
"Overall, it was the one-on-one communications we were able to accomplish through the trade missions that made them a success," said Troy Skarke, chairman of the USCP board's market development committee. "This was the first time we were able to have roundtable discussions where buyers could talk in person about their issues and needs so sellers could address them. That, to me, made the missions a huge success."
The USCP helped organize the tours to help potential buyers of U.S. sorghum gain an understanding of the industry and the export system, with cooperation of the U.S. Grains Council, Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board and Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, as well as participating businesses and elevators. Interpreters were used to assist with the communications efforts.
The Mexican visitors represented a diverse group of commercial and custom feed manufacturers, large livestock feeding operations (dairy, beef, swine and poultry) as well as grain importers. Many of the buyers had limited experience with sorghum.
"When we make it possible for potential buyers from Mexico and other countries to see the quality of the product we have to sell, important relationships can be established and should help us export grain sorghum long term," said Florentino Lopez, USCP marketing director.
To assist with this long-term development, the USCP already is in talks with the U.S. Grains Council about future missions, including additional outreach to Mexico as well as other regions such as Asia. In addition, the organizations are planning reverse missions to these countries, as well as the creation of domestic missions to link buyers and sellers within the United States.