EXCLUSIVE: RedLeaf Biologics new commercial facility up and running
Product expected to hit store shelves soon
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – In November 2021, ABC 36 brought you an exclusive story about red sorghum. While sorghum is native to Kentucky, scientists here have discovered a unique way to grow what they call a new and more beneficial variety known as red sorghum.
They’ve since commercialized with the product set to hit store shelves soon. ABC 36’s Erica Bivens takes us to their new production facility in this exclusive followup.
A group of scientists and entrepreneurs makeup the company RedLeaf Biologics which combines science with business.
“A year ago we were at a small pilot facility. We’re now here standing at our first commercial scale facility which we’re building in order to serve some of the largest and most important brands in the US, in Europe, and around the world,” said Sean Voigt, President of RedLeaf Biologics.
Founded in 2015 in Kentucky, they’re the only provider of red sorghum in the world.
Jordan Wood, CEO of RedLeaf Biologics explains, “Red Leaf’s red sorghum is a one in two million anomaly that was first discovered at the University of Kentucky and that is licensed exclusively to RedLeaf Biologics.”
As you might imagine, it hasn’t been an easy or quick process.
“We have a brand new crop and we can’t rely on scientists, botanists, ergonomists around the world to teach us how to grow it,” said Parker Camp, Agriculture and Operations Manager for RedLeaf Biologics.
Camp says it’s been more than a decade of trial and error in the lab and in the field, learning not only how to grow the new species, but also how to harvest and dry it and then extract what they need to be able to ultimately sell the product.
“So we’re very excited to just have completed our first commercial facility and our first purchase orders and products are going out the door, things you’ll be able to see on the shelf in a few months here,” said Voigt.
Voigt says it’s all to cater to consumer demand by providing what they call a natural product.
“It’s been known for centuries if not millennia that Red Sorghum has this ability to produce these quite magical biologically active compounds but only in these very minute quantities,” said Voigt. “The kind of the miracle with our crop is we’re able to express these compounds throughout the entire plant which allows us to extract and produce them for the first time ever.”
Voigt says these polyphenol compounds are known for their health and wellness benefits.
“Amazing potential as a bioactive ingredient in things like health, nutrition, cosmetics, food and beverage,” explained Voigt.
With the new production facility, Wood says they’ll be able to expand operations.
“The idea is to grow thousands of acres of this stuff, with our Kentucky farmers, be delivering on mass scale in the US and beyond,” said Wood.
Camp added, “We got extremely lucky to stumble across the farmers we have thus far. We’re excited to be working with local Kentucky growers and we’re excited to expand our network.”
As they add more growers to the mix, they hope to turn the Bluegrass, into fields of red.
Wood says they’ve made the process extremely simple for farmers to allow growers to basically plug their crop into their own equipment to help keep overhead costs down.
If you’re a grower who is interested, you can email RedLeaf Biologics at: email@example.com.