USGC increases Japanese awareness of sorghum, barley

by World Grain Staff
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) said on Oct. 11 that it attracted the attention of more than 1,000 health-oriented businesses earlier this month at the Health Ingredients Show in Tokyo, Japan. The show is the largest exhibition on health-oriented products in Japan that had a total of 40,000 visitors over the course of the three days.
The council had a booth on sorghum and another on beta-glucan barley, which were visited by food manufacturers, food wholesalers and food journalists. At the sorghum booth, white sorghum, pigmented sorghum, and their food products were displayed, and the council explained health benefits of white sorghum as a new flour material for gluten free foods. Pigmented sorghum flour products were presented to visitors seeking for new products with health benefits. At the barley booth, commercial food products of two barley millers using U.S. beta-glucan barley were introduced. The USGC said the barley snack and food products on display caught eyes of snack food manufacturers, including Otsuka Foods and Nisshin Flour Mills, two well-known Japanese snack food companies.
A seminar and panel discussion were also held during the show on the health benefits and uses of U.S. sorghum and barley. Natsuki Fujiwara of Northern Crop Institute presented the developments of food barley and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) health benefit claim on barley dietary fiber. Sara Boswell of Texas A&M University elaborated on the uses of food sorghum and its health benefits, while Dr. Takuya Sugahara of Ehime University presented on the immune inducing and allergy suppressing qualities of white sorghum. The two seminars were attended by 70 food businesses and journalists, all with an interest of using the two products.
While sorghum is commonly used in animal feed in Japan, it is not popular among the Japanese as food. Also, the health benefits of barley, which has a long history of human consumption in Japan, are not well known. By introducing a wide variety of Japanese audiences to U.S. sorghum and barley in food production, the Council is hopeful that U.S. exports of these products to Japan will continue to grow in the upcoming years.
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