Earlier this month, the U.S. Grains Council hosted a Regional Course Grains and Co-Products Conference, where Latin American buyers and end-users were reassured of the U.S. commitment to regain a significant part of the export market to the region. Latin America is an important region for U.S. grain exporters, as the region typically imports more than 16 million metric tons (629.8 million bushels) of U.S. corn and 2.3 million tons of co-products and 900,000 metric tons (35.4 million bushels) of sorghum.
Sixty participants representing 13 countries in the Latin American region attended the conference and were provided with a current industry overview, product profiles, transportation information, product management information and actual value of the products for end-users. They also heard presentations on topics ranging from the status of the distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn gluten industries to producer supply and demand for coarse grains and an update on the ethanol industry.
While there was much discussion about each topic during the conference, two common questions were posed: the value of products and their future in the market. Extensive information was provided on the technical and nutritional value of the products, while market updates addressed the potential challenges and opportunities for each coarse grain.
Besides being an educational event, this was a prime venue for U.S. producers and suppliers to meet some of the top importers and large end-users of U.S. feed grain exports. As a result of this conference, both Colombia and Ecuador have confirmed future shipments of coarse grains and co-products.
Following the conference in Panama, Council staff and U.S. representatives traveled to Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru to meet with local industry representatives and continue answering questions from end-users on feeding practices for U.S. coarse grains and co-products.
Florentino Lopez, executive director of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, who attended the conference and post-conference tour noted, "The Council's conference put U.S. grains and co-products directly in front of our Latin American buyers and reassured them of the consistency and quality of U.S. products."
From the conference and meetings, it is clear that while Latin America has concerns about the high volatility of the future markets, buyers in the region are hoping to continue their strong trading relationship with the U.S. agricultural sector.