WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Grains Council has recognized a market opportunity for barley in Japan, a country whose rapidly aging population is creating increased demand for high quality, healthy foods, the USGC said on July 22. The council capitalized on this potential by sponsoring two advertisements in this month’s edition of the widely-read Japanese health magazine Today’s Health to emphasize the positive health effects of eating U.S. barley.

The advertisements, which reached the magazine’s readership of 300,000 people, educated readers on the numerous health benefits of U.S. barley. Specifically, the ads focused on U.S. barley’s high levels of beta-glucan, a unique nutrient that has potential benefits for heart health as well as for lowering one’s risk of diabetes.

The advertisements also featured an interview with Kimihiko Banno, a representative of the Toyohashi Ryushoku Industry Co., which sells a pearled variety of U.S. barley named “marumagi” that is particularly high in beta-glucan. Banno spoke about his experiences as a barley processor and the positive feedback he received from consumers who have incorporated barley into their diet.

Although barley is a staple of certain traditional Japanese dishes, barley is predominantly used today as a feed grain in Japan. As Tommy Hammamoto, USGC director in Japan, said: “By sponsoring these advertisements and raising public awareness of barley’s healthful effects, we are hoping to win over new consumers who may not think of barley as a health food.”