The U.S. Grains Council's Japan office kicked off a series of major sorghum promotion efforts with a highly successful sorghum food symposium and tasting event.
"The symposium was designed to promote a new sorghum branding effort," explained Florentino Lopez, executive director of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. "Sorghum has commonly been viewed and utilized as a livestock ingredient in Japan among other countries.
"This was an opportunity to reintroduce sorghum as a healthy, viable food choice and highlight benefits like its antioxidant properties and its use in gluten-free foods."
Lopez, who spoke at the symposium, said he was happy with the turnout: "Groups from the food industry, academia and media were present and could help showcase sorghum and its role in the food industry."
Attendees included 29 food industry contacts and 16 reporters, according to Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan.
Lopez praised the efforts by the Council's Japan staff and noted especially the tasting event with a variety of sorghum-based dishes created by a well-recognized chef from a popular Tokyo café.
Choices at the tasting included a sorghum croquette, sorghum risotto, a sorghum crepe, sorghum and chicken roast, sorghum cheesecake and sorghum coconut pudding.
"It was amazing to see the diversity of dishes created and the response of the attendees," said Lopez.
Next steps in the Council's sorghum promotion efforts include a video for the general public to highlight sorghum's food qualities, a Dec. 12 television program on the health benefits of sorghum, and later in December, a sorghum recipe contest.
The Council's Japan sorghum program is a good example of what the sorghum checkoff is trying to achieve. According to Lopez, "opening markets for sorghum is critically important for U.S. sorghum producers – whether these markets are in food, feed or industry – our desire is to provide sorghum producers with high value opportunities for marketing their crop."