Barilla inaugurates upgraded Iowa factory for additional gluten-free pasta

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

Of the Ames' 200k production capacity, 8% is gluten-free and 7% is whole-grain. Pic: Getty Images/Bloomberg
Of the Ames' 200k production capacity, 8% is gluten-free and 7% is whole-grain. Pic: Getty Images/Bloomberg

Related tags Barilla Pasta Durum wheat whole grains lentils chickpeas legumes Manufacturing Iowa Iowa state university

Barilla’s has opened the $65m expansion of its in Ames, Iowa, which now has the capacity to produce 200k metric tons annually, including gluten-free and wholewheat pastas.

The Ames pasta plant and integrated durum mill will create more than 40 jobs and nearly double the total output of pasta. It will also feature separate lines for producing a variety of legume-based pastas, including red lentils and chickpeas.

The updated facility includes two new processing and packaging lines, a rail-yard expansion and six new wheat silos. Larry Covington, plant director for Barilla Ames, told BakeryandSnacks that gluten-free pasta accounts for 8% of the facility’s output. Wholewheat pasta accounts for 7%, with the rest being semolina durum wheat.

The Italian pasta maker employs 214 people in Ames, home to Iowa State University, whose proximity Barilla considers a key factor.

Barilla 255
Outside Barilla's site in Ames, Iowa

For the factory’s inauguration ceremony on April 10, Barilla CEO Claudio Colzani was joined by Iowa governor Kim Reynolds and Ames mayor John Haila, as well as the city’s economic development chief.

"Over 20 years ago, we were drawn to the unparalleled work ethic of Iowans, the agricultural know-how of Iowa State University and the proximity to favorable rail access as well as the critical regional supply of wheat,”​ said Colzani. 

Gluten-free and wholewheat

Barilla opened the Ames site in 1998 and added two gluten-free lines in 2015. That expansion brought 25 more jobs.

The gluten-free lines - made from non-GMO corn and rice - now manage 15k metric tons each year, Covington told BakeryandSnacks.

“In 2016, the expected production of gluten-free pasta was 6,100 metric tons. The production in 2018 was 9,200 metric tons and growth is expected to continue in this range,”​ he said. “We have also added product line extensions for legumes in 2019.”

The legume lines will produce pastas made from red lentils and chickpeas.

Global expansion

Headquartered in Parma, Italy, the 140-year-old manufacturer produces pasta, ready-to-eat sauces, baked goods and crisp breads. Its 28 production sites, 14 of which are in Italy, export 1.7m tons of food products to more than 100 countries.

Its 10 brands include Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Pavesi, Filiz and Misko.

Noting the company’s plans to grow further in the US and Canada, Fabio Pettenati, VP of Barilla’s supply chain, told BakeryandSnacks, “Barilla has committed to invest ​€200m a year in the next five years, in different countries around the world. The money will allow Barilla to increase capacity in existing factories, invest in automation and innovation as well as build new assets in strategic markets.”

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