The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) participated in a “United Tastes” event in Ho Chi Minh City last month, supporting a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) project led by its Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to promote U.S. agricultural and food products in Vietnam including, for the first time, U.S. food sorghum.
With pandemic-related restrictions eased, the Council, representing its partner the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), was able to share the benefits of U.S. food sorghum with 73 in-person participants including members of the media, chefs, food importers and retailers.
“The USGC Southeast Asia Office strives to continually add value with our members and not shy away from exploring new markets. With the help of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, we conducted our first-ever food sorghum promotion program in Vietnam,” said Caleb Wurth, USGC assistant director for Southeast Asia. “We learned a lot and created a foundation for future opportunities for U.S. sorghum farmers, processors and exporters in the country.”
The United Tastes initiative aims to connect, educate and inspire Vietnamese consumers relative to high-value, high-quality, safe and healthy U.S. products. U.S. sorghum is high in dietary fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals important for the human body and is naturally gluten free and low in fat.
The Council’s booth featured a popular Vietnamese chef preparing two dishes that attendees could sample – sorghum pasta and sorghum mixed with salmon – both of which were hits with participants.
Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. According to USDA, agricultural exports to the country have increased by 40 percent in value over the last five years to reach $3.7 billion, making it the seventh-largest overseas market for U.S. agricultural and related products.
After nearly five years of collaborative efforts by the Council, the U.S. sorghum industry, USDA and regulators in Vietnam, in May 2020, a pest risk assessment was approved by both USDA and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), opening the door for U.S. feed and food sorghum to flow into the country for high-value uses.
Official approval from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) coupled with Vietnam’s pest risk assessment approval opened the door for Vietnam’s Plant Protection Division to issue import licenses when Vietnamese importers request one for sorghum.
“The United Tastes event builds on this positive movement and is a tremendous example of the strong relationship and cooperation between FAS and the entire U.S. cooperator family to promote U.S. products abroad,” Wurth said. “As the Vietnamese population moves up the income ladder, so does its desire for diverse, nutritious, imported food that’s also delicious, and we want them to know how U.S. sorghum can satisfy that demand.”
About The U.S. Grains Council
The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 28 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.