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.”
Changes in India’s Growth Outlook
India’s economic growth is now projected to fall below 8 percent this year, according to the latest forecast from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), which cited slowing growth in almost all sectors. However, industrial production and manufacturing are expected to grow by 7.5 percent, while mining and agriculture are forecasted to expand by 4.4 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
Performance varies considerably among India’s food industries, reported U.S. Grains Council consultant Amit Sachdev.
Aquaculture, for example, increased production by 40 percent in 2010/11, and India may see its seafood exports increase as a result.
Driven by rising purchasing power and evolving eating habits, India’s broiler industry is expanding production by 13 percent to 14 percent annually. India is the third largest egg producer in the world, and with a per capita egg consumption at just 35 per year, analysts see ample room for growth. (U.S. per capita egg consumption is 246.)
The Indian food processing industry, expected to reach $320 billion in value by 2015, faces challenges from high packaging costs, consumer preference for fresh food and a lack of infrastructure. An additional challenge is the industry’s regulatory status; it does not qualify for agriculture’s priority lending program, and the industry faces high taxes that put processed food prices out of reach for many Indian consumers.
Ukraine Competes for Taiwan Grain Sales
Traders have been offering Ukrainian feed wheat and corn to Taiwanese buyers, said Clover Chang, U.S. Grains Council country director. Ukrainian corn quotes are $13 to $25 less per metric ton than U.S. corn, but local buyers have generally not been satisfied with its quality.
Despite quality concerns – crude protein levels as low as 6.7 percent and foreign material as high as 14 percent — some buyers are showing interest because of the lower price, and the first cargo of Ukrainian corn will reportedly arrive in Taiwan in the first half of December.
COUNCIL ACTIVITY CALENDAR
December 11-14: The Council will organize a number of DDGS workshops in Japan to provide valuable information on U.S. DDGS export availability, utilization and shipping. Participants include major commercial feed companies and local buyers. Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of DDGS, will speak on DDGS use in the United States and current market outlook. For more information, contact Anne Pelkey, USGC manager of planning, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 12-19: The Council will host a Corn Wet Milling Industry Development and Trade Servcing event in Indonesia and Malaysia. Some of the largest corn wet milling companies in the region will have the opportunity for one-on-one technical servicing demonstrations to see first-hand the benefits of U.S. corn applications in commercial operations. USGC consultant, Dr. Vijay Singh, from the University of Illinois, will be in attendance to speak and advise on the use of U.S. corn in the dry and wet milling process. For more information, contact Anne Pelkey, USGC manager of planning, at email@example.com.
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