USGC seeks to spur food barley imports to Japan

by Eric Schroeder
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USGC_ US high beta glucan barley imports to Japan_Graph credit USGC
Graph courtesy of the USGC.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Food barley imports from the United States to Japan could double in 2017 to 20,000 tonnes thanks to aggressive market promotion efforts from the U.S. Grains Council.

The USGC said it has partnered with Zenbakruen (All Japan Barley Industry Association), the Japan Food Barley Promotion Association and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote the heart health benefits of barley and hopefully boost U.S. market share. The groups’ efforts have included educational seminars, trade teams and reverse missions.

Last fall, Japanese barley industry leaders traveled to Idaho, North Dakota and Washington. Following their visit, a major Japanese food barley miller and barley food products manufacturer tested new high beta-glucan barley varieties and began contracting with U.S. producers, which led to an increase in barley food products and a corresponding increase in imports, the USGC said.

“With Japan’s health-conscious public, the country is an excellent market for high beta-glucan U.S. barley,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. “Promoting barley as an alternative grain for the Japanese consumer has led to steadily increasing imports, increased consumer awareness and contracted sales.”

He added, “The Council’s market promotion efforts have resulted in the commercialization of a series of barley food-based products. Today, the industry is independently promoting beta-gluten barley in the Japanese market, which directly benefits the U.S. producers who grow these varieties.”

The USGC said U.S. food barley exports to Japan are worth twice the average price of feed barley. Most of the food barley consumed in Japan is either grown locally or sourced from cheaper Australian supplies, the USGC said.

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