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SF Blog: Is Sorghum the Next Cool Food?

Yes, according to the New York Times, Washington Post, the James Beard Foundation, and TODAY who all named sorghum a 2017 food trend. The Sorghum Checkoff amped up promotion of sorghum as a super grain for consumers last summer when it launched SimplySorghum.com.

Like all checkoff programs, the Sorghum Checkoff is charged with growing and creating new markets. Only 3% of sorghum is consumed as food today (the rest goes primarily to feed, ethanol, and export), so the checkoff is working to grow this relatively new and small market by increasing awareness among food companies, chefs, dietitians, millers, bakers, and food editors.

To connect with that last audience, the Sorghum Checkoff recently hosted a product preview at Meredith Corporation. Started in 1902 by Successful Farming magazine, Meredith is home to many food-focused brands including Better Homes and Gardens, Eating Well, Rachael Ray Every Day, and more.

I also attended the product preview to learn more about the checkoff’s efforts and so I could try sorghum (of course!). Here’s what I learned:

sorghum-dessert
1. Sorghum is delicious.

I am not a food editor, but I do love food. At the product preview we tried: Spinach and Almond Sorghum Salad with Popped Sorghum, Mediterranean Bowl with Whole Grain Sorghum, and a Mixed Berry Cobbler. The dessert (shown at right) was particularly tasty.

2. Sorghum can be used in a variety of ways.

Like at the product preview, sorghum grain can be toasted and added to salads, served like quinoa (or rice or pasta) as a main dish, and used in desserts. If you like to cook, here’s a host of recipes to get you started.

3. Sorghum is already on the shelves of many grocery stores.

Sorghum is in more than 1,000 items that are being sold in grocery stores across the U.S. At SimplySorghum.com, you can find retailers or make a request to have sorghum sold at your grocery store.

4. Farmers get a premium for food-grade sorghum.

The price of sorghum is based on the value of corn. Here’s the breakdown of marketplace values for sorghum as of May 31:

  • Merchandiser $2.66
  • Ethanol $2.85
  • Feedlot $3.09
  • Export $3.86
  • Food $5.11

5. The Sorghum Checkoff is ramping up promotion of sorghum.

To continue expanding the consumer marketplace for sorghum, the Sorghum Checkoff will focus on an array of both traditional and out-of-the-box tactics. For this year, that includes tradeshows, digital promotion, and working with health and food industry professionals. A big focus for next year will be foodservice, specifically campus and university dining services as well as school lunch programs.

“The foodservice sector is a major target not only because of the potential volume, but also because customers within this target are open to try new foods,” says Faith Smith, consumer communications strategist at the Sorghum Checkoff. “The Sorghum Checkoff will continue working with major food companies and restaurant chains to incorporate sorghum as part of their menu selections, as well.”

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