Food Barley Mission Fosters Collaboration Among Asian Buyers

A team of food barley end-users from Japan, Korea and Taiwan are visiting North Dakota, Washington and Idaho this week on a combined mission to learn about U.S. barley production and procurement. 

The effort, put on by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and co-sponsored by the North Dakota Barley Council, Washington Grain Commission and Idaho Barley Commission, was designed to engage potential buyers, allow them to learn from each other’s experiences and to accelerate the expansion of contracting barley production by demonstrating how each country has successfully used this grain. 

“The trip was a great way to facilitate regional conversations around U.S. barley,” said USGC manager of global trade, Manuel Sanchez. “There’s tremendous potential for buyers to collaborate and take advantage of competitive group rates.” 

Japan, Korea and Taiwan are the three largest export markets for U.S. barley in the East Asia region.The U.S. exported more than $23 million dollars worth of barley to these markets in the 2014/2015 marketing year, and interest in the grain and its diverse applications continues to be important. 

The trade team this week began in North Dakota with a visit to the Northern Crops Institute and North Dakota State University’s greenhouse facility, where team members learned about trends in barley production and utilization and were introduced to ingredient and varietal differences like whole seed, pearled, grits and flour. 

“Team members got a historical review of barley production in North Dakota and were able to learn more about its use in malting, food ingredients and livestock feed,” Sanchez said. “It was a great way to show the grain’s functional characteristics as well as diverse applications.”

In Washington, they attended a barley seminar for an overview of the Idaho and Washington barley crops, production trends and opportunities as well as food barley variety development. A tour of a seed company allowed team members to see production, storage and shipping techniques in action. 

Later, team was scheduled to visit a cooperative in Idaho to learn more about delivery methods and commercial channels as well as a milling company and container loading facility for an overview of product development and storage capacity. 

“This trip wouldn't have been possible without the time investment from our member organizations,” Sanchez said. “They’ve really gone above and beyond to make sure that the team has felt welcomed and learned as much as possible in a few short days.” 

With competitive prices and better varietal choices, the trip is both an informative and essential way to foster stronger trade relationships between U.S. growers and their customers and is just one of the many ways USGC is working to build relationships and export markets. 

To learn more about the Council’s work to promote barley internationally, click here.

More photos from the trip are on USGC's Flickr page here.