The European market offers “tremendous” long term export opportunities for U.S. sorghum producers, according to participants of the U.S. Grains Council’s 2008 Sorghum Mission to Europe. Last week the team visited Germany and Spain to explore U.S. sorghum export opportunities in each market.

“There is tremendous long-term opportunity for U.S. sorghum to be exported into Europe because end-users will have better access to sorghum, know how to use it due to ongoing education efforts and will build it into their rations at high inclusion rates,” said Troy Skarke of the National Sorghum Producers and USGC Board member. Skarke said last year nine European Union countries imported U.S. sorghum for the first time, making the region the United States’ largest sorghum export market. Mexico imported larger quantities of U.S. corn because of the competitive price for U.S. sorghum spurred by the new demand from Europe.

“This year we heard that a lot of feedmills were nervous about the market and bought feed wheat at a high price,” said Chris Corry, USGC senior director of international operations for Rest of the World. “But it is possible Europe will buy U.S. sorghum in May 2009. This period bodes well for the United States as Europe would be buying for July, August and September delivery. By then, the new crop will be in and prices should be reasonable in the United States.”

U.S. sorghum growers are harvesting or will be shortly, and early reports indicate success. Chuck McDonald, Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board, said the harvest in the Rio Grande Valley area was not record breaking but above average, despite natural calamities. McDonald said the majority of sorghum in his region was harvested in early July.

“The majority of the harvest was very good. We had a very dry spring down here and a very wet July, which caused some damage to the crop but not enough to have a devastating impact on production,” said McDonald. “The hurricanes caused significant damage to cotton, but thankfully sorghum was harvested prior to that devastating calamity my fellow Texas farmers and I had to endure.”

The 2008 USGC Sorghum Mission aimed to capitalize on last year’s large exports to the region by maintaining relationships within the market to ensure that Europe remains a reliable buyer of U.S. sorghum in the future.