Considerations for progressing a mainstream position for sorghum, a potentially sustainable cereal crop, for food product innovation pipelines
Background Sorghum grain is a sustainable cereal crop. There is growing interest in sorghum as a food ingredient, particularly in Western societies that do not traditionally consume it. There is emerging food and nutrition science supporting this, but to achieve consumer acceptance requires a commitment to food innovation and the promotion of sorghum as a human food. Scope and approach This commentary highlights key considerations for progressing sorghum in Western food product innovation pipelines. It discusses evidence for health effects of sorghum consumption, market trends and commercialisation issues, food regulation matters and the significance of stakeholder collaborations. Conclusions are drawn by integrating current knowledge from scientific literature, market reports and consumer trends analyses, along with guidance on food regulation, and pragmatic, experiential knowledge of past research collaborations between academia and food industry. Key findings and conclusions Commercial investment in sorghum food product development is warranted, with value adding opportunities seen in sorghum's gluten-free attribute, its valuable nutrients, slowly digestible starches, dietary fibre, and antioxidant compounds. To create successful sorghum-based products requires the integration of knowledge and expertise across a wide spectrum, from grain breeders and producers, to food scientists and technologists, nutrition scientists, and the whole food manufacturing team working with consumers and food regulators. A concerted research effort, with collaborations between stakeholders and academic researchers, along a defined value chain, and with an eye to food policy and regulations, is critical. With this collective approach, the outlook for sorghum as a human food in Western societies is positive.