Hoping to create new markets for sorghum, the Sorghum Checkoff in conjunction with the U.S. Grains Council, is sponsoring an international sorghum food use team visiting the U.S. April 11-17. The participants are industry flour users from Europe and Taiwan with an interest in gaining a better understanding of the use of sorghum flour in their manufactured products.
“This program is exciting because those on the outside will be able to see sorghum as a viable food product,” said sorghum producer and checkoff board member Earl Roemer. “They will see both health implications and food benefits.”
On Monday, April 12, the program will begin with presentations on sorghum use in food and information on sorghum baking. The presentations will outline new uses for sorghum and provide attendees with a greater understanding of the potential health benefits of including sorghum in food production.
“The workshop is intended to show prospective overseas customers that sorghum can be used for more than livestock feed,” said Jay O’Neil, International Grain Program (IGP.) “Foreign markets may not be aware of sorghum or may not be considering it for food use.”
The team will learn about current research concerning the baked characteristics of sorghum flour. O’Neil said this could lead to new possibilities in specialty markets around the world and mean good things for U.S. sorghum producers.
Tuesday, the team will see a variety of hands-on demonstrations of baking with sorghum. They will have the opportunity to learn from quality demonstrations of flour, bread, teas and noodles made using sorghum, and all attendees will enjoy sorghum waffles.
“Visitors will see how we are manufacturing sorghum flour and using it in our food products, and hopefully they will go home and see how they can utilize sorghum in similar manners,” O’Neil said.
The team of five is made up of visitors from The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Taiwan. The remainder of the week will consist of additional presentations and visits to various sorghum mills where the team will receive additional information about the benefits of sorghum in food use.
“When we add new markets, it offers competitiveness for the product and the opportunity to reach out,” Roemer said. “By educating these individuals about the different uses for sorghum, we hope to open new opportunities for the industry to grow.”
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program was established in 2008 under the authority of the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. Funding for the checkoff is derived from value based assessments on all grain sorghum and forage sorghum produced in the U.S. as well as from a similar assessment on imported grain sorghum. A 13-member producer board of directors administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.