Major flour miller to buy U.S. chickpea processor

Ardent Mills to take up Hinrichs Trading Co.

Major North American flour miller Ardent Mills is expanding its reach into pulse-based ingredients with a deal to buy U.S. chickpea processor Hinrichs Trading Co.

The two companies said they “expect the deal will help customers bring innovative products to market to meet growing consumer demand for plant-based and specialty ingredients.”

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in Denver-based Ardent’s release Thursday, other than that the deal is expected to close in April, pending the usual due-diligence.

“We were looking for a partner that had the expertise to take the chickpea market to the next level and provide new opportunities for our team members and our growers,” Hinrichs CEO Phil Hinrichs said in Thursday’s release.

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Ardent, he said, “bring(s) operational and technical expertise, access to new markets, and the ability to scale quickly and sustainably. Hinrichs Trading Co. complements that with our extensive chickpea sourcing knowledge and extremely close grower connections.”

Hinrichs said it contracts production of chickpeas with “trusted, long-term growers” across chickpea-growing areas of the U.S.

Based at Pulman, Washington, about 120 km south of Spokane, the company sources chickpeas through five sites in Washington and Montana and bills itself as “having been involved in the production of the ingredient since it was first introduced into the U.S.” over 30 years ago.

“The plant-based food and beverage market shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, we continue to see significant growth as consumers look to foods that align with their individual values — both personal and planetary,” Shrene White, general manager of Ardent’s specialty ingredients arm The Annex by Ardent Mills, said in the same release.

“This potential venture will enable us to offer diverse chickpea solutions to our customers from day one.”

Ardent was set up in 2014 as a joint-venture company merging the milling operations of ConAgra Foods and Horizon Milling, the latter already a joint venture between Cargill and U.S. ag co-operative CHS.

Ardent today includes mills in 20 U.S. states and Puerto Rico plus three Canadian sites, at Saskatoon, Montreal and Mississauga. It said its growth plan involves further investment in specialty ingredients and diversifying its portfolio beyond wheat flour.

The company set up The Annex by Ardent Mills in 2018 to offer plant-based proteins and other specialty ingredients made from pulses as well as barley, rye, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, triticale and teff, an edible grass seed. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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