With purchases totaling $126 million in 2010, Japan is one of the most important markets for U.S. sorghum. In order to further develop this beneficial relationship, the U.S. Grains Council joined with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program to host a workshop in Tokyo for more than 50 Japanese feed manufacturers, traders, Ministry of Agriculture personnel and industry press reporters to explain the advantages of U.S. sorghum utilization.

Throughout this workshop, the Council sought to engage with Japanese end-users and demonstrate the advantages of increased sorghum inclusion in feed products- sorghum use in Japanese feed has declined from 22.6 percent in 1976 to 6.9 percent in 2010. Dr. Joe D. Hancock of Kansas State University and Dr. Jeff Dahlberg from the University of California spoke on the nutritional and environmental benefits of sorghum use. Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of international operations for DDGS, gave attendees an update on sorghum and coarse grains supply and demand trends.

Another goal of this workshop was to distinguish U.S. sorghum from its main competitors for the Japanese market, Australia and Argentina.

“U.S. sorghum has a competitive advantage due to the United States’ dependable transportation lines, efficient production methods, and low tannin levels. High-tannin sorghum can be difficult to digest for certain animal varieties,” said Florentino Lopez, Sorghum Checkoff marketing director.

All told, the meeting provided an excellent opportunity for Japanese importers, end-users and government officials to learn about the benefits of sorghum use and the continued ability of the United States to reliably provide this product.

“This type of dialogue is important to increase sorghum inclusion rates and to position the United States as the most desirable supplier,” Lopez said.