USGC: Mexican ethanol producers set sights on sorghum

By U.S. Grains Council | July 26, 2016

A U.S. Grains Council trade team of Mexican ethanol producers visited Kansas and Texas last week as part of program designed to engage interest in U.S. sorghum for production of the biobased fuel. The program, launched in partnership with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, gave participants the opportunity to tour facilities and learn more about the benefits of using sorghum as Mexican energy industry reforms continue.

In 2015, Pemex, Mexico's state-owned petroleum company, announced its plan to introduce a pilot program that would blend gasoline with ethanol. The resulting boom in ethanol interest gave USGC the opportunity to lead conversations and generate continued awareness of ethanol with the goal of fostering new competition in the market place.

"Producers are looking to expand their plants," said Heidi Bringenberg, USGC manager of global programs, who accompanied the team in the United States. "Some producers are currently using sugar cane and beets in production. This program gave them the opportunity to see how sorghum could be used too."

The team's first stop was a lab tour, where producers were introduced to USDA grading and quality standards, followed by a workshop on purchasing strategies and risk management tools. Since many buyers are sourcing their energy inputs domestically, the lab tour and workshop offered participants the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the advantages of buying U.S. sorghum.

"Producers were able to see how flexible sorghum is," said Javier Chavez, USGC marketing specialist in Mexico. "U.S. sorghum as an ethanol feedstock can be helpful for Mexican producers because it helps them ensure consistent supply without fully relying on local production."

In addition to one-on-one meetings and visits to sorghum and grain facilities, an ethanol plant tour gave producers an inside look at production methods and insight into applicable plant management techniques.

The program made participants aware of the many tools and opportunities at their disposal and offered an opportunity for them to get their questions about prices and energy policies answered.

Trade teams like the one made up of Mexican ethanol producers are intended to help buyers build relationships and discuss present and future needs. The council builds on these activities through additional outreach and programming locally.

Click here to learn more about the council's work to build demand for sorghum worldwide.