The main grain used for baijiu (pronounced “bye-joe” or “bye-jee-oh”), the biggest selling alcoholic spirit on the planet, is sorghum, although other grains may be used. China did not import sorghum in volume until 2013, but by 2016 China was importing up to 10 million tonnes annually for animal feed and baijiu production. The majority of imported sorghum (8mt) was sourced from the United States, while about 1.6mt came from Australia. While mostly used for animal feed, some of this was used in baijiu.
The Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC), the University of Queensland (through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI *) and its partner the Queensland Government), and the Functional Grains Centre at Charles Sturt University, are examining opportunities for increasing the value of Australian sorghum in China.
With support from Austrade China, research is being conducted in China with key baijiu manufacturers in an effort in improve Australia’s understanding of the quality attributes required for the manufacture of baijiu.
The results of this work will be extended to the Australian grains industry later this year.
Dr Glen Fox, QAAFI, is available for comment.