Brian Sorenson said it was more important than ever for millers to stay in contact with manufacturers and truly understand consumer trends, particularly as the flour market had become increasingly consolidated.
“It’s important for us to understand how we can continue to thrive in an environment with more of the conventional flour milling companies merging. We want to stay relevant and stay important to industry,” he told Milling & Grains.
“The biggest challenge continues to just try and be out there ahead of the curve when it comes to what the industry is looking for; what does the consumer want in their food product and can we bring that into our capabilities and provide them with a product that will help these food companies be successful?”
While such trend tracking was complex, Dakota focused efforts on texture and taste preferences among consumers in particular, he said.
Working in a niche helps
Dakota Specialty Milling worked within a niche which helped the company remain competitive, Sorenson said.
“We really focus on different shapes and forms of many different grains. At least with commercial flour milling the first thing you think about is wheat, but we mill almost any grain that’s available,” he said.
Wholegrains continued to be in high demand, he said, along with ancient grains that required different milling equipment and technologies.
With these grains, the company worked to develop new processing methods that provided a product with a difference for manufacturers, he explained.
Working in the niche flour area meant Dakota could provide something of value to the baking sector, he said, beyond the traditional, commercial millers.