U.S. Barley Sales Continue Expansion In Japan Following Council Promotion

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) used Market Access Program (MAP) funds to promote high beta-glucan barley, a dietary fiber, as a health-oriented grain in Japan, a highly health conscious food market. The Council has promoted high beta-glucan barley in Japan for more than 10 years.

Japanese consumers place high importance on the nutritional value of their food. This health awareness, combined with a decade of the Council promotion, has created a growing niche market for specific varieties of U.S. food barley containing high levels of beta-glucan.

High beta-glucan barley has heart-healthy properties that may reduce cholesterol, lower the risk of heart disease and reduce glycemic index, according to U.S. research. These nutritional properties make U.S. varieties of food barley attractive for Japanese food producers who use the grain to produce various food products, including cereal products and snack bars.

To help boost U.S. market share, the Council has partnered with Zenbakruen (All Japan Barley Industry Association), the Japan Food Barley Promotion Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to promote the heart-healthy benefits of barley with snack food companies and industry associations through educational seminars, trade teams and reverse missions. Based on these continued efforts, the industry now also independently promotes these products in the Japanese market. In addition to the health benefits of barley, the Council has promoted contract production with U.S. barley growers.

Even though overall volume is at the niche market level, Japan is an important and growing market. Japan purchased nearly 28,000 metric tons valued at $15 million of U.S. food barley in 2017, up dramatically from 8,400 tons the year before and the prior five-year average of 4,370 tons. According to the Japan Customs statistics, a total of 8,934 tons of food barley have been imported from the United States from January to March 2018.

The Council continues to support the positive growth for food barley in Japan by keeping partner organizations and snack food companies updated with the latest information and research developments related to new varieties of U.S. beta-glucan barley.

The Council used $50,000 in MAP funds in 2017 to support its marketing efforts related to food barley, resulting in an increase in U.S. barley sales valued at $10 million and a return on investment (ROI) of $460 per $1 of MAP funds invested.