World sorghum trade recovers from a very low base: USDA

Grain Central, February 12, 2020

CHINA’S imports of sorghum in the current year are forecast at 900,000 tonnes, up 38 per cent from the previous year’s total of 652,000t , according to USDA’s World Agricultural  Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report released overnight.

While showing the first uptrend in five years, the forecast figure is less than one tenth of the 10-million-tonne (Mt) peak seen in 2015 (Table 1).

Table 1. China’s sorghum imports in Mt, with US tonnage in blue and Australian in red. TDM in USDA grain publication.

World sorghum trade in 2019/20 is forecast at 3.7Mt, slightly more than last year, but has declined by 60pc over the past five years (Table 2).

Trade in 2015/16 was 9.9Mt of which the US exported 7.9Mt, Argentina 800,000t and Australia 700,000t.

Table 2. Sorghum exports world total. US, blue columns, all other countries, red columns. Million tonnes. Source: USDA.

The 2019/20 export forecast for US is 3Mt. The current forecast for 2019/20 (Oct-Sep) foreign sorghum exports is the third-lowest in USDA’s database.

Sorghum production in the US, Argentina, and Australia has trended down over the last decade, with Australia’s drought-affected production in particular forecast to be the lowest since 1969/70, negatively affecting global exportable supplies.

Argentina’s exports to other countries in South America and Mexico earlier in the decade have fallen as sorghum demand in these markets tapered off due to plentiful and comparatively inexpensive corn.

The feed value of corn is higher than sorghum, giving corn a potential advantage in both price and end use.

Sustained but small demand puts US sorghum in the box seat, as Australia and Argentina have limited presence in the 2019/20 market.

Global figures

World sorghum production is forecast at 57.6Mt, 27.5Mt of it in sub-Saharan Africa.

North America produces 11.5Mt, including the US crop of 8.7Mt.

South America produces 5.6Mt, China 3.6Mt, Argentina 2.5Mt and Oceania, including Australia, 400,000t.

World sorghum trade in 2019/20 is forecast at 3.7Mt of which the US will export 3Mt.

Argentina is forecast to export 200,000t, Nigeria and Ukraine 100,000t each, Ethiopia 75,000t, Australia 50,000t, India 50,000t and China 40,000t.

Imports in 2019/20 are forecast by USDA include 900,000t to China, 700,000t to Mexico, 250,000t to the EU, 200,000t to Sudan, 150,000t to South Sudan, 150,000t to Kenya 150,000t and 100,000t to Chile.

Source: USDA


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