Global Sorghum Production is Booming Due to Strong Demand in China - Global Trade Magazine
  July 24th, 2021 | Written by

Global Sorghum Production is Booming Due to Strong Demand in China

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  • In value terms, China ($1.2B) constitutes the largest market for imported sorghum worldwide.
  • According to forecasts by IndexBox, the sorghum market will continue to grow during the next decade.

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Sorghum – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

In 2021, global sorghum production will grow by 5%, boosted by growing supplies to China. Sorghum imports to the country are expected to rise by 28% compared to the previous year, driven by the increasing demand for animal feed. Prices will continue to rise in line with other cereals, following accelerated food inflation. The advantage of sorghum as a more drought-tolerant crop will allow this product to compete seriously with corn and will further stimulate market expansion.

Key Trends and Insights

In 2021, global sorghum production is expected to increase by 5% y-o-y to 61.2M tonnes, thanks to the expansion of cropland and expected favorable weather conditions. The largest crop gains are expected in Argentina (+30% y-o-y), where the crop area increased by 27% y-o-y, as well as in the U.S. (+14% y-o-y) and Mexico (+17%), which expanded sorghum fields by +14% y-o-yand 4% respectively.

Global sorghum exports are expected to grow by 23% y-o-y, primarily driven by China’s continued massive grain purchases for animal feed. According to USDA forecasts, imports to China will increase by 28% y-o-y by the end of 2021 due to the increased demand for animal feed.

In the context of strong demand, prices for sorghum are expected to rise alongside other rising grains. Global food inflation is accelerating due to rising demand for food and animal feed, as well as the increased ethanol and renewable fuel production. In the U.S., a leading producer country that supplies 74% of sorghum to the global export market, the season-average farm price per product increased from $103 per tonne in September 2020 to $155 per tonne in April 2021.

According to forecasts by IndexBox, the sorghum market will continue to grow during the next decade, primarily due to the growing demand for livestock feed worldwide. An increase in demand for gluten-free products in a growing population may be an additional stimulus for market development since sorghum is the main component in such products. Sorghum can compete with corn as an alternative and more drought-resistant crop, which in the context of global climate change is also becoming a stimulus for the development of the sorghum market.

Global Sorghum Production

Global sorghum production stood at 58M tonnes in 2020, therefore, remained relatively stable against 2019. In value terms, sorghum production skyrocketed to $30.5B in 2020 estimated in export prices.

The countries with the highest volumes of sorghum production in 2020 were the U.S. (8.4M tonnes), Nigeria (6.5M tonnes) and Ethiopia (5.6M tonnes), together comprising 35% of global production. From 2012 to 2020, the biggest increases were in Ethiopia, while sorghum production for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Global Sorghum Imports

In 2020, purchases abroad of sorghum increased by 22% to 6.6M tonnes, rising for the second consecutive year after six years of decline. In value terms, sorghum imports skyrocketed to $1.6B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

China dominates sorghum import structure, reaching 4.8M tonnes, which was approx. 73% of total imports in 2020. It was distantly followed by Japan (382K tonnes), making up a 5.8% share of total imports. Mexico (232K tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

In value terms, China ($1.2B) constitutes the largest market for imported sorghum worldwide, comprising 71% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Japan ($85M), with a 5.2% share of global imports. It was followed by Mexico, with a 4.4% share.

In 2020, the average sorghum import price amounted to $249 per tonne, approximately mirroring the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Mexico ($313 per tonne), while Spain ($205 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

Source: IndexBox Platform