Sorghum, Your Next Staple Food Product

MikeBakerProfileBy: Kayla Wilkins, Communications Intern

Grain sorghum is matching up with the needs of the average American consumer in recent years. Shoppers are seeking healthy food products, and sorghum offers just that.

Sorghum originated in Africa, dating back to 8,000 B.C. This ancient grain has been a part of the human diet across the world for many years, but just recently became increasingly popular in the U.S. In turn, end-users have continued to find many benefits of using sorghum in a variety of food products.

“Sorghum is an ancient grain grown right here in our own backyard,” said Doug Bice, Sorghum Checkoff high value markets director.“That's more than just a ‘made in the USA’ plug. It means there is a cost benefit to utilizing sorghum because it doesn't have to be imported from another country.”

In a matter of a few short years, sorghum has transformed from only specialty brands to big name products like Kellogg’s, KIND, Boom Chicka’ Pop and more. The food sector used 8.66 million bushels of the 2014/2015 marketing year sorghum crop to date and is increasing at a rapid rate. End-users are seeking sorghum’s beneficial attributes and continue to introduce new products containing sorghum.

Earl Roemer, NuLife Market president, said sorghum is more present in the food industry than ever before, with an annual growth of approximately 20 percent in their business alone. Roemer said this growth will only continue as consumers recognize the quality of sorghum from a food product standpoint.

In fact, the main driving force for this sudden increase in the development of new food products is consumer demand. Roemer said, modern-day consumers are looking for nutritious whole grains to add into their diets, and sorghum definitely fits the bill.
“Every major company in the U.S. recognizes that sorghum can deliver numerous attributes," Roemer said, "and that is exactly why we are seeing such a massive growth in utilization of sorghum in the food industry.”

Grain sorghum is an extremely versatile product in nature. Those necessitating a gluten-free lifestyle or individuals seeking to spice up their typical diet can use sorghum in a wide variety of ways. Since sorghum can be milled into flour, eaten as a grain, popped and even used as a syrup, it can be incorporated into every meal.

It is not only a tasty ingredient, but is packed full of other benefits for consumers. Studies have shown that adding sorghum in a diet can help the body fight against diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

“By combining these respective food sources that sorghum has, you can play to the strengths of those nutritional profiles and optimize what is needed in a balanced diet,” Bice said.

New products containing grain sorghum are hitting the shelves almost weekly. Industry, farmers and end-users are all excited about this growing trend of grain sorghum use in the food sector.

Bice said opportunities are booming for grain sorghum on several fronts from growing food trends driven by consumers to sorghum being an American-grown ancient grain. Next time you are the local grocery store, try a product with grain sorghum, you might just find a new staple in your kitchen.