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Sorghum Markets

Sorghum’s Unique Journey in Today’s Food Industry

By Kelli Fulkerson W

hen asking someone in the United States, “Do you know what sorghum is?” Te typical

response is, “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff you feed to cattle.” Others may say it’s a major export grain or is used in ethanol production. However, it’s rare to hear someone say, “It’s the grain we ate last night for dinner.” While traditionally the food in-

dustry has only made up a small per- cent of the sorghum market, interest in sorghum as an ancient whole grain is gaining serious popularity. Te Sorghum Checkoff has been

hard at work to keep up with the tre- mendous momentum from culinary institutes and restaurants as well as institutional food sector groups like the U.S. Department of Defense. Even food bloggers and grocery mar- ket shoppers are starting to request sorghum as a food option.

Clear Navigation Derives from Direction Sorghum Checkoff High Value

Markets Director Doug Bice said there have been strategic steps taken by the Checkoff in recent years, help- ing to lead to the demand seen today. “Tere were many ways the Check-

off could have approached the market,” Bice said. “Our board of directors felt it was vitallty important to get people in the food industry focused on everything sorghum — its versatility, health bene- fits and sustainability. Tis focus began a public awareness campaign.”

28 Te campaign was launched by

sending sorghum-sampling kits to targeted restaurants, chefs, influential food critics and bloggers. Te kits illustrate the various ways sorghum can fit into different food products while helping the individuals to better understand the versatility sor- ghum has to offer. Sorghum Checkoff Executive

Director Florentino Lopez said the Checkoff’s mission is to efficiently invest farmer dollars to increase pro- ducer profitability while enhancing the sorghum industry. “This is the mentality the staff

and consultants had when creating an awareness campaign.” Lopez said. “We didn’t want to be known as this year’s super food and never be seen again.”

Facilitation of Fame The Checkoff took the momen-

tum it had gained from the initial sampling kits and pushed it a step further by getting out and in front of people directly involved in the food industry. In 2014 there were sorghum booths at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposi- tion, the annual meeting for In- stitute of Food Technologists and regional food expositions. During the Institute of Food

Technologists Annual Meeting, the Checkoff hosted an event called Sorghum 360. The event was an opportunity to bring together food

companies, manufactures, pro- cessors, formulators and research institutions. Attendees experienced educational panels about sorghum and a cooking demonstration where lunch was prepared by chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione, season three winner of the hit Food Network television show The Next Iron Chef. “As soon as I tasted sorghum

for the first time it turned me on, and I have been playing with its versatility every since,” Forgione said. “We do everything with sor- ghum —from popcorn, to polenta, we make salads, soups even risot- tos. Once you start working with sorghum, you realize the possibili- ties are limitless.”

“We do everything with sorghum - from

popcorn to polenta, we make salads, soups even risottos. Once

you start working with sorghum you realize the possibilities are endless.”

SORGHUM Grower Fall 2015

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