Consumer Food

An Ancient, Healthy, Versatile Grain

As consumer demand strengthens for versatile, healthy ancient grains, sorghum’s popularity is seeing a resurgence. With its wonderful, nutty taste, sorghum is a terrific substitute for traditional grains consumed in everyday diets. Sorghum is an excellent source of energy, containing about 75 percent complex carbohydrate. It is a good to excellent source of iron and zinc and is rich in B complex vitamins. Additionally, sorghum provides good to excellent sources of phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, anthocyanins, phytosterols and policosanols. Sorghum is also meeting gluten-free needs for those with celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance.

Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grain crop in the world, largely because it grows well in many different environments, it is naturally drought tolerant and its versatility as a food, feed and fuel. Only four other foods: rice, wheat, maize and potatoes are consumed in greater amounts by the human race. Used to make both leavened and unleavened breads, sorghum is also found in various fermented and unfermented beverages and can be steamed, popped, flaked or consumed as a whole grain or syrup. For thousands of years, sorghum has been a food staple around the world. It is the dietary foundation of more than 500 million people in 30 countries and is one of the most familiar foods in the world.

The Sorghum Checkoff is working with food companies, chefs, dietitians, millers and bakers and more across the U.S. to increase awareness about sorghum.

Sourcing Sorghum Products

Are you a sorghum producer looking for new markets? Are you an international buyer looking for grain? Search our directory below to connect with producers, manufacturers, users of sorghum and more.

Listing of companies that sell sorghum products  (please note this is not an inclusive list).

Visit SimplySorghum.com

Looking for delicious ways to serve sorghum grain to your family and friends? Visit www.simplysorghum.com to find inspiring recipes, cooking tips, nutritional information and everything you want to know about Sorghum, Nature's Super Grain.TM 

Sorghum: Nature's Super Grain

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Q and A with Earl Roemer, Nulife Market President

Question: Is color an indication of food-grade sorghum?
Answer: The sorghum species is Sorghum bicolor. The two sub-species of sorghum plants are referred to as purple plant and tan plant. An easy way to identify which plant is purple or tan is by looking at the glume that surrounds the grain when it is ripe. The glume will be dark purple if it is a purple plant and tan if it is a tan plant. Most often in the United States a white or crème colored grain that is produced by a tan plant sorghum is referred to as a food-grade sorghum. This sorghum grain is very bland in flavor and may be milled into a very nice white flour for gluten free food applications. The purple plant sorghums that produce white, red, bronze, or black colored grain may also be consumed as a food. The pigmented grains contain very unique phenolic compounds or antioxidants that are being researched for their possible health benefits and their use as natural food colorants.

Question: Does the milling quality matter?
Answer: Sorghum may be milled with standard grain milling equipment as long as this equipment has the capability of producing a flour specification that is required by the end user. The specifications of the flour references the particle size, particle size distribution, and starch damage necessary for producing a cooked or baked food product with the texture most desired by the consumer. The product range is endless, from gluten free extruded snacks and Ready to Eat (RTE) cereals to gluten free baked pastries.

Question: What items from a nutrition standpoint constitute food-grade suitability or are more preferred for its use?
Answer: Even though purple plant sorghums produce grain with some possible nutritional health benefits from these pigments, they also may develop compounds with some bitter or astringent flavors that may not be as attractive to the consumer because of taste. Consumers in recent years are eating more whole grains that do contain some of these stronger flavors and many consumers have become accustomed to these products and are associating dark pigmented foods with greater health benefits. This is an excellent attribute of sorghum and an opportunity for its use in the functional food and beverage industry. The diversity of colors contained in different sorghum grains and increasing demand by consumers for this category of food product could be very beneficial to the industry.

Question: Does farmer management play a role in determining food-grade sorghum?
Answer: The sorghum producer will manage the production of the food-grade grain very similar to that of other standard sorghum grains. If this grain is produced for use in gluten-free food products, it will be under a very strict management, traceability, and identity preservation program dictated by the processor of the sorghum grain in order to prevent cross contamination of gluten-containing grains. Most often, food type sorghum grain is produced after direct communication with the food processor.

Question: What changes are on the horizon for the type of sorghum consumers use?
Answer: The expanding demand for sorghum grain in the food industry is directly correlated with the unique attributes it contains. Consumers are demanding more ancient grain based food products that are also non-GMO, gluten-free, offer potential health benefits, and are more environmentally friendly. These sorghum containing attributes bode very well for its increased use in the food industry. The launch of many sorghum containing products by national known food companies are providing an exciting future and new use for this industry.