IBIE 2016

Firebird Artisan Mills set to expand gluten-free ancient grain business

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cereal

Earlier data from Datamonitor showed that chia and quinoa led the field in US gluten-free product launches that contain ancient grains. It indicated that new US food launches containing ancient grains or seeds have almost tripled between the period of 2008 and 2014. 

North Dakota-based gluten-free mill company, Firebird Artisan Mills, sat down with BakeryandSnacks during the recent IBIE in Las Vegas, Nevada, to talk about how it tackles the increasingly popular gluten-free market as a milling company.

The company entered the ancient grains market from the gluten side years ago, and moved into its gluten-free facility in 2008 to capitalize on the growing gluten-free trend, according to the director of sales and procurement at Firebird Artisan Mills, Chris Krenzel.

Expanding footprint in the ancient grains space

“We’ve been doing ancient grains for about 10 years now,”​ Krenzel said. “We currently produce six of the nine ancient grains in our facility, including buckwheat, sorghum, quinoa and teff, and we also offer 30 different gluten-free flours.”

Among all the ancient grains, quinoa is the most popular grain in the bakery category and it has been around for the longest period of time, he said. “We are also seeing an uptrend in sorghum. They are both grown in the United States.”

Ancient grains currently make up around 40% of Firebird Artisan Mills’ over business, and the company hopes to grow its presence in this market as more and more bakery and snack manufacturers are adding ancient grains to their products, such as noodles, Krenzel added.

Avoiding product recalls

As multiple bakery companies recalled their products due to e-coli outbreak and the presence of gluten earlier this year, Firebird Artisan Mills thinks that its multi-prong testing done during its production processes is essential when it comes to avoiding product recalls.

Most product recalls are caused by a grain that is tampered, or the water is added to the products prior to it is being milled, Krenzel explained.

“All of our products are dry milled, and we don’t bring in any water,”​ he said. “We also worked with our suppliers to see if both micro testing and gluten analysis are done.”

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