Global Sorghum and Millet Market

09 November 201712 min reading

With an annual global output of 60 million tons, sorghum is mainly used as raw material for feeds. However, it is intensively produced in arid and hot regions of Africa where other grains are insufficient or are not produced at all and it is widely used in human nutrition. With an annual global output of 25 million tons, millet has been one of the basic nutrients of humans for 4 thousand years in Africa and Asia and for Europe until the end of the Middle Age. Today, this grain still maintains its importance in human nutrition in the hot and arid countries of Africa and Asia, although it is cultivated as a feed plant in Turkey, in Western Europe and in the United States.  

sorgun_arastirmaSorghum and millet are two of the most basic foods for the poor and rural people in the arid regions where other grains are difficult to grow. When examining production area of these yields, we see that Africa, Central America and South Asia shine out. These products, which can be used in a wide range of fields, such as human food, animal feed and biofuels, are important food sources particularly for African countries which are poor in terms of other grain products.

The two-color sorghum, a kind of sorghum, is an important world grain used in the production of food (grain as sorghum syrup or sorghum molasses), feed, alcoholic beverages as well as biofuels. Different kinds of the Sorghum are produced in tropical and semi-tropical regions of all other continents as well as the South West Pacific and Australasia. Some scientists believe that global warming will make sorghum a more valuable product in the forthcoming years. Because sorghum can be preferred instead of corn in places where there is water shortage. That is, it might be an alternative to corn. Therefore, the decrease in groundwater in the future due to global warming will not enable the cultivation of corn in some regions, but sorghum will be among the products that can be grown in these regions by means of its less need for water.

Millet which is generally mistaken for with corn in Turkey, is a very different grain product from corn in terms of its plant image and it is planted for human food and animal feed all over the world and has much smaller grains than corn. The yield and nutritional value of very small millet grains is lower than most other grains. There are many different types and kinds that stand out in various parts of the world. Experts state that it has approximately 300 kinds. The basic similarities of all these millet varieties are that they can be grown in places with a difficult production environment which are under the risk of drought. In fact, sorghum is roughly a kind of millet. However, its global output has driven sorghum forward as a product to be separately assessed.

GLOBAL PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION OF SORGHUM Sorghum is a plant that has been growing for five thousand years, and it is deemed to be the fifth most important grain crop grown in the world today. Sorghum supplanted other kinds of grains in Africa and some Far East countries and it is widely used as animal feed in the United States, South America and European countries. The bread baked with the flour that is obtained from grinding of the sorghum seeds is one of the most common usages of sorghum in human nutrition. Sorghum grains are widely used as an animal feed as well as human food.

The most up-to-date data on world sorghum production is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS). According to USDA data; world sorghum production, which was 57.6 million tons in the 2012/13 season, reached 60.9 million tons in the 2013/14 season and 66 million tons in the 2014/15 season. The production which decreased to 61.4 million tons in the 2015/16 season rebounded in the 2016/17 season and reached to 63 million tons. The latest USDA report, that includes 2017/18 season forecasts, suggests that the sorghum production will be 60.6 million tons.

Within the scope of 2016/17 season data, top sorghum producer in the world is USA along with 12.1 million tons. Nigeria continues to be ranked as the second with 6.8 million tons of production. Sudan, which was ranked as the fifth in the 2015/16 season, saw a significant increase in sorghum production during the 2016/17 season and rose to third place with 5.8 million tons leaving Mexico and India behind. In global production of sorghum; the USA, Nigeria and Sudan are followed by Mexico with 4.7 million tons, India with 4.5 million tons, China with 3.8 million tons, Ethiopia with 3.6 million tons and Argentina with 3.4 million tons. Estimates for the 2017/2018 season suggest that the ranking will not change much. The only change in the new season is the expectation that Mexico will be in the third place again.

The greatest share in the world’s consumption of sorghum belongs to China. According to USDA data; China’s sorghum consumption, which was only 3.2 million tons in the 2012/13 season, reached to 6.8 million tons in the 2013/14 season and 12.9 million tons in the 2014/15 season. The sorghum consumption of the country, which decreased to 11 million tons in the 2015/16 season, continued to decline in the 2016/17 season. However, in the 2016/17 season, China on its own realized 8.8 million tons of global sorghum consumption which was 63.2 million tons in total and thus, maintained to be on the first rank in the global sorghum consumption. Nigeria, which was ranked as the fourth in the global sorghum consumption in the 2015/16 season, rose to second place with 6.7 million tons in the 2016/17 season. China and Nigeria are followed by the USA, Sudan, Mexico, India, Ethiopia and Argentina in the global sorghum consumption. According to USDA data; during the 2016/17 season, the USA consumed 6.2 million tons of sorghum, while Sudan 5.8 million tons, Mexico 5.3 million tons, India 4.5 million tons, Ethiopia 3.7 million tons, and Argentina 3.1 million tons.

GLOBAL PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION OF MILLET Millet is an important grain product for developing countries in Asia and Africa, which are now semi-arid tropical climates. Its flour is used in the making of bread and since it is too starchy it is used in the making of grain alcohol and it can also be used in the making of boza through fermentation. It is one of the most important nutrients in North African countries and it is also used as feed for birds. In these regions, millet grains are either eaten as mush after boiling or grained and its flour is used in the making of flat breads such as pita bread. In addition, the stems and grains of all millet kinds are also used as animal feed.

Despite all this, however, millet is not considered to be as popular as any other grain products. The amount of its production is very limited compared to other grain products. According to the data obtained from USDA, which declared the global output of millet to be between 25 and 30 million tons in the last 5 seasons, global millet production, which was 25.6 million tons in the 2013/14 season, reached to 27.3 million tons in the 2014/15 season and decreased to 25.5 million tons in the 2015/16 season. USDA estimates that world millet production, which reached 28.9 million tons in the 2016/17 season, will be around 26.7 million tons in the 2017/18 season.

According to the USDA’s data for the 2016/17 season, the most important millet producers in the world are India, Niger, China, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. With an output of 11.6 million tons in the 2016/17 season, India achieved a significant portion of global millet production on its own. The annual production of each of the other countries varies between 1 and 5 million tons. Niger, which is ranked as the second after India in world millet production, produced 3.8 million tons of millet in the 2016/17 season, while China, which is ranked as the third, produced 1.9 million tons.

The top consumer of millet, which is used for human food or animal feed, is India which is also the top producer of the said grain. In the 2016/17 season, it realized 11.3 million tons of millet consumption, while the production was 11.6 million tons. In consumption of millet, India is followed by Niger with 3.8 million tons, China with 1.9 million tons, Nigeria with 1.6 million tons, Mali with 1.8 million tons, Burkina Faso with 1 million tons and Chad with 675 thousand tons.

The most striking point in USDA’s latest data announced in October is the correction about Nigeria. In the previous seasons, Nigeria was in second place with an approximate quantity of 3-4 million tones in production and consumption of millet, but these figures have been revised to 1-2 million tons at the last data. The new revised quantity is also consistent with that of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

GLOBAL TRADE OF SORGHUM AND MILLET According to USDA data; during the 2016/17 season, 7.6 million tons of sorghum were traded all over the world in total. The US, which is ranked as the first in global exports of sorghum, realized 6,1 million tons of exports of 7.6 million tons on its own. In the global sorghum exports, the USA is followed by Australia with 550 thousand tons, Argentina with 400 thousand tons, Ukraine with 175 thousand tons and Nigeria with 100 thousand tons.

As for the import, China is ranked as the first. In the 2016/17 season, China realized 5.2 million tons of 7.6 million tons of sorghum imports on its own. In global sorghum imports, China is followed by Japan with 600 thousand tons, Mexico with 550 thousand tons, EU with 200 thousand tons, Kenya with 130 thousand tons and South Africa with 100 thousand tons.

Millet is usually consumed in the region where it is produced. Therefore, the amount of millet that is subject to world trade is extremely small. USDA has no clear data on global millet trade. The global millet imports and exports based on the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO’s formal, semi-official and estimated millet trade data are not equal. The most up-to-date data from FAO belongs to 2013 and according to the 2013 data, exports are seen as 380,000 tons and imports as 348,000 tons. This difference stems from the fact that the data on millet trade cannot be obtained in an accurate way.

According to FAO’s data, India is ranked as the first in the global sorghum exports. In 2013, India which exported 82 thousand tons is followed by EU countries with 57 thousand tons, Ukraine with 40 thousand tons and Russia with 39 thousand tons. And as for the global sorghum imports, the EU countries are ranked as the first. The EU countries which imported 106 thousand tons of millet in 2013 are followed by Yemen with 22 thousand tons, USA with 20 thousand tons and Tanzania with 19 thousand tons.

PRODUCTION OF SORGHUM AND MILLET IN TURKEY Sorghum, which isn’t a popular product in Turkey, is mostly produced for animal feed purposes but the production amount is extremely low. Turkey is producing between 100 and 400 tons of sorghum every year according to the data having been compiled by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) since 2004. Turkey’s millet production which was 361 tons in 2013, was only 81 tons in 2014. This amount decreased to 4 tons in 2015 and to 3 tons in 2016.

In comparison with sorghum, the production of millet is much more common in Turkey. The most important kinds of millet cultivated in Turkey are “koca”, “kum” and “cin”. According to TUIK’s data, the planting area of millet, which was 39 thousand decares in 2004, gradually narrowed and decreased to 29 thousand decares in 2010. However, the planting area, which continued to decline in the following years, fell to 23,000 decares in 2016. This contraction in the planting area is also redounded on the production. According to TUIK’s data; Turkish millet production, which was 7 thousand tons in 2004, remained about 6-7 thousand tons until 2011 and decreased to 4 thousand 759 tons in 2012. The production which exceeded 5 thousand tons again in the following year, increased to 6 thousand 744 thousand tons in 2014, but started to decrease again in 2015 to 6 thousand 219 tons and to 5 thousand 327 tons in 2016.

TRADE OF SORGHUM AND MILLET IN TURKEY There is hardly any sorghum trade in Turkey. While Turkey exports hardly any amount of sorghum, its imports vary from 100 to 300 tons per year. However, it is noteworthy that the amount of imports of 345 thousand tons recorded in 2015 increased up to 3 thousand 468 tons in 2016.

As with sorghum, Turkey does not export millet. The import amount of millet is much higher than that of sorghum. According to the TUIK’s data, Turkey’s millet imports which were around 2 thousand tons in 2010, reached to 10.4 thousand tons in 2011 and 11.1 thousand tons in 2012. In 2013-14 period, imports were again down to around 2 thousand tons, and realized as 2.8 thousand tons and 2.9 thousand tons consecutively. Imports started to increase and reached to 6,2 thousand tons in 2015 and 7 thousand tons in 2016.

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