Sustainability / Environment

How Fresh Bellies is Using Drought-Resistant Sorghum to Build a Multi-Million Dollar Snacking Empire

As severe drought continues to impact the US supply of wheat and cotton, one snack brand is championing the use of an ancient, sustainable grain that requires little to no water to thrive.

Healthy and Earth-friendly

Fresh Bellies, founded by entrepreneur Saskia Sorrosa, makes healthy puffed snacks using sorghum – a drought-tolerant grain that is also low in fat, gluten-free and rich in protein and fiber. Fresh Bellies, whose range includes snacks for preschoolers and toddlers as well as adults, says its products are some of the first vegan, non-GMO offerings to feature the eco-friendly “super grain.”

The brand uses sorghum in its new Groovie Veggie Bites, a puffed snack available in a variety of flavors including Broc ‘n Roll, Shroomtastic and Turn Up the Beet. All of the varieties contain less than eight ingredients with no preservatives or artificial fillers. 

Fresh Bellies CEO
Saskia Sorrosa ©Fresh Bellies

Water wise

As a minimally processed grain, sorghum provides ample nutritional benefits – one cup contains 22 g of protein, and is high in vitamins and antioxidants. Compared to other common grain crops, sorghum requires much less water and less fertilizer to grow. In some areas, the plant can actually survive with zero irrigation. 

The grain’s popularity is beginning to gain major momentum – in July, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) began recommending schools serve children sorghum as part of meeting federal nutritional requirements. 

Sorghum Plant
Sorghum / Image by Vijaya narasimha from Pixabay

Within the plant-based industry, sorghum is still a marginal ingredient, but that may be slowly changing as brands like California’s Mill It introduce sorghum-based innovations like dairy-free buttermilk dressing. 

Fresh Bellies has raised $7M to expand its brand, and since 2020 the company tripled its reatil footprint to 5,000 stores across the US, including Sprouts, Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Meijer and Walmart. The brand’s products are also available to ship via Amazon. 

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