Health-conscious Japanese consumers have new recipes to try after U.S. food sorghum was featured in two food journal articles in late 2020, according to a news release. The placement of these articles was the latest in the U.S. Grains Council’s long-term effort to establish and expand a niche, value-added market for U.S. sorghum in Japan.
The readership of Nikkei Woman consists of young to middle-aged women and included an article featuring Erica Angyal, a popular figure with whom the council has worked to promote sorghum since 2013. Eiyo-to-Ryori, which translates to “Nutrition and Cooking,” is a monthly journal targeted to nutritionists and registered dieticians.
The council helped arrange for sorghum articles to appear in these publications along with general information on health attributes, high mineral content and research on dietary fiber. Because many readers do not know how to prepare sorghum, the articles also included recipes with detailed instructions.
“These articles expand our reach to health-conscious Japanese consumers,” said Michiyo Hoshizawa, USGC program and administrative manager in Japan. “We continue to work with nutritional experts to identify and clarify the scientific evidence that supports the health benefits of sorghum.”
The council has conducted promotion efforts for white food sorghum and white sorghum flour in the Japanese market for the past few years. As a result of these educational programs, the Japanese snack and food industry has increased interest in and commercialization of sorghum for their products. Japanese food sorghum demand remains small but steady at around 200 metric tons, roughly 7,900 bushels, per year.
“Like the council’s success promoting food barley, continuous promotion of food sorghum will continue to increase this market in Japan,” Hoshizawa said in the release. “We believe this market is a success that will grow over time, thanks to long-term goals and the support of the U.S. sorghum industry.”
The Japanese market now includes more than 50 food products with sorghum as an ingredient. Additional areas of interest promoting sorghum as a health-oriented food grain include black sorghum, which contains higher antioxidant levels.
“Food sorghum in Japan represents a small, niche market. However, this specialized, health-conscious market provides another value-added opportunity for U.S. sorghum farmers,” Hoshizawa said. “The Council will continue to promote food sorghum as a healthy and environmentally-friendly grain, while, at the same time, maintaining a close relationship with feed sorghum customers.”