By Leigh Ann Maurath on February 6, 2018

Sorghum: The Up-And-Coming Food Product

And it's processed at Nu Life Market in western Kansas

Earl Roemer’s office is simple. Nothing fancy adorns the walls. A small, well-used desk sits in the corner. A conference table lined with products made with grain sorghum (or milo) sits in the middle of the room.

Nu Life Market, located just outside Scott City in western Kansas, is one of the largest dedicated gluten-free flour mills in the United States. And by the simplicity of Roemer’s office, you would never guess Nu Life ships their product across the U.S., as well as to China, Italy, Germany and Japan.

You would, however, quickly realize upon speaking with Earl that he has a seemingly endless amount of knowledge about sorghum and gluten-free products. And he is always thinking about the demands of the consumer.

THE BEST PLACE

In 2007, Roemer saw an opportunity to solve a problem facing many consumers in his own backyard. With 25 years of farming under his belt, Roemer started Nu Life Market with the goal of creating high-quality, gluten-free products that consumers were demanding.

Eating gluten-free has become a popular trend in the U.S. Although unnecessary for most, others have serious health restrictions that require them to choose gluten-free products because they are allergic to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For example, people with celiac disease must avoid all products that include or could have made contact with gluten.

When Roemer first began Nu Life, there was little interest from major food companies in the U.S. to expand into gluten-free products because it’s harder to do. Gluten-free production is risky due to the possibility of mixing and contaminating sorghum with other grains.

“The demand for gluten-free, however, dictated that those companies begin offering gluten-free options for their consumers,” Roemer says. “And that is what we did in our company. Working with top people in food science and milling science, we were able to develop unique processes.”

Those processes he’s referring to all relate to grain sorghum. Although 100 million people around the world consume grain sorghum every single day, U.S. sorghum consumption is minimal. If Roemer has anything to do with it, that won’t always be the case.

“We produce some of the best quality grain sorghum in the world,” Roemer says. “And we know that. We have the right climate. We have the right soils. And we have the best producers in the world who are providing those grains under a strict program.”

Roemer, his family members and 20 other producers grow all the sorghum Nu Life needs for its products.

“Individual farmers can produce millions of pounds of grain and that translates as an ingredient to many millions of pounds of a final product,” Roemer says.

Sorghum uses fewer natural resources than many other crops. According to Roemer, sorghum was practically made for the dry climate of western Kansas. The plant is also known for its deep and fibrous root system, which increases its ability to mine water.

THE BEST PRODUCTS

Roemer is continually looking for new ways to use sorghum and his competitiveness drives his desire to learn.

“The food culture in the United States has changed,” he says. “Throughout the world it has changed. All this focus on new products creates excitement. And we offer that something new.”

Making great products is like connecting the dots. It takes plant genetics, excellent grain quality, chemistry and an understanding of the nutritional characteristics.

“When we first started this company, gluten-free products were really bad,” Roemer says. “But that gave us a great opportunity.”

One of those opportunities came in the form of a favorite treat to enjoy while watching a movie. Nu Life is the largest U.S. company that pops sorghum.

“It smells like a popcorn factory here,” he says. “We send semi-truck loads at a time.”

Approximately 95 percent of Nu Life’s product are bulk ingredients such as sorghum syrups and extracts, pearled sorghum grain, SmartFRY flour, popped sorghum and a variety of sorghum flours.

All this is accomplished with fewer than 30 employees. Pride shines through his eyes when Roemer talks about the Nu Life staff and how they manage every aspect of production.

“We manage the seed from the time it goes into the ground to the time it hits the consumer’s mouth,” he says.

THE BEST SAFETY PRACTICES

Along with caring for the seed when it goes in the ground, Nu Life takes special care of the consumer to avoid food allergies. They have a strict Farm to Family Food Safety Program to ensure consumer safety.

Since those with celiac disease can’t be in contact with gluten, each truck of grain unloaded into the Nu Life facility is tested for gluten proteins. The farmers who grow the grain follow an intense food safety program. At no point will any sorghum come into contact with anything that may contain gluten.

“Eliminating cross contamination is important because our consumers demand we provide products that are gluten-free,” Roemer says. “Our food safety program is at the highest level.”

Nu Life follows the global food safety initiative, which allows them to market to any of the large U.S. food manufacturers. Everything that takes place in the facility is documented so consumers can trust production practices follow all food-safety procedures.

THE BEST PEOPLE

From the outside, Nu Life may look like a modest business endeavor, but on the inside, you’ll find the people behind what is now one of the largest gluten-free milling facilities in the U.S.

You’ll learn how passionate Roemer and his staff are about creating highquality and safe gluten-free products for their consumers.

“It’s a trust,” Roemer says. “Consumers need to trust the food products they are eating. People want to know where their food comes from and where it is grown.”

Nu Life is doing just that — providing a new vision for food, creating a new market for gluten-free products, communicating the truths about agriculture production and finding new opportunities for farmers.

Visit www.nulifemarket.com to order products and learn more about the Nu Life way.