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Japan launches heart healthy food barley product

A report from the United States Grains Council highlights the recent launch of a new 'heart healthy' food barley product in Japan, adding that such an event is hoped to benefit US growers in the long term.


March 28, 2008
By United States Grains Council

March 27, 2008

According to the United States Grains Council, Hakubaku Company, the largest food barley processor in Japan, launched a new barley product last week using U.S. high beta-glucan food barley. The product is called “Barley for Cooking” and will soon be available in supermarkets and retail stores nationwide.

Cary Sifferath, U.S. Grains Council senior director in Japan, said the United States is the top source of feed barley for the Japanese marketplace, but is seeing increasing interest in food barley.

“The first shipment of U.S. food barley arrived in Japan on July 17, 2007. That was the beginning of a very valuable trade relationship that benefited U.S. barley producers and has secured demand for their products,” said Sifferath, adding that Hakubaku’s recent product release serves as a strong indicator that U.S. food barley exports to Japan will increase.

Michiko Wakamiya, the Council’s Tokyo office manager, said Hakubaku was very enthusiastic about importing barley from the United States because they noticed its “wonderful characteristic for cooking, good taste and also its waxy texture which stays after cooking.”

Wakamiya said this is an epoch-making product for them, because for the first time, they made a barley product not to be cooked with rice in a rice cooker. 

“The traditional way of consuming barley in Japan is to eat it as a staple food, but this time Hakubaku introduced barley as a side dish or soup ingredient,” she said.

According to Wakamiya, the product targets the health-conscious.

“Recently, more and more Japanese are suffering from metabolic syndrome, and the government suggests taking more dietary fiber in order to prevent heart disease and diabetes,” she said.

The U.S. barley was introduced on two Japanese cooking programs, one titled Fried Rice and Barley by TV Asahi, and the other Pork Beans with Barley by BS TV Nihon.