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sorghumcheckoff.com Japanese Consumers Find Culinary Inspiration in Sorghum F 3


ood grade sorghum is making a splash as a special- ty, high-end product in Japan where health is often more important to consumers than price. But it


hasn’t always been that way. This growing marketplace


was merely a concept in the early 2000s and has since be- gun to take off due to the ef- forts of the U.S. Grains Council Japan and the Sorghum Check- off. Tommy Hamamoto, direc- tor of U.S. Grains Council Ja- pan, said Japanese consumers became more health conscious in 2010 and began looking for new alternatives. That’s when the Council knew it was the right time to promote food grade sorghum. “In our first phase of ef-


forts we needed to increase people’s awareness of food grade sorghum,” Hamamo- to said. “We created a short TV program based on our first trip to Texas and Kansas where we were introduced to research, visited a sor- ghum farm and watched a cooking demonstration.” To accompany awareness


efforts, U.S. Grains Council Japan began participating in industry targeted food shows to gain interest from food companies. Elevating efforts even further, the Council host- ed their first sorghum food focused program and invited sorghum leadership to jump- start initiatives. The


and began the process of sharing the potential of sorghum as a healthy food ingredient. “Sorghum Checkoff leadership saw the Japanese


marketplace as a potential opportunity that could lead to success long term and pro- ducer profitability,” Lopez said. “So we partnered with the Council to help share more of sorghum’s story. Markets evolve over time but we knew a long-term commitment, robust plan, steady pressure and out- of-the-box thinking would help establish demand for sorghum.” Now in the second phase


of efforts, U.S. Grains Council Japan has created a sorghum specific food website —www. sorghum.jp, gained Erica An- gyal as a spokesperson of Healthy Sorghum Life and es- tablished an extensive cam- paign to bring sorghum to Jap- anese consumers. “Products from pancakes


to pasta are becoming a reali- ty. We are also seeing creative alternatives to common foods like salmon rice balls using sor- ghum,” Lopez said. “Sorghum is seen as a healthy, fresh alter- native that provides a wealth of attributes from high fiber to beneficial antioxidants.” With


sorghum’s uses


now expanding to numerous product lines and recipes us- ing flour and grain, chefs in Japan are also taking notice of its versatility. “When chefs fry something


program included various speakers, a


celebrity chef and a recipe contest that ended in success. Florentino Lopez, executive director,


Sorghum Checkoff said the effort was targeted


using sorghum flour, it makes it crispy and has a pleasant texture,” Hamamoto said. “Grain sorghum is very puffy but soft when you cook it, and it is very unique. Those characteristics stimulate food professionals.” Continued on p. 4 of USCP Newsletter


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