The Shifting State of Flour Amid the Current Pandemic
How Ardent Mills is addressing the changes
May 14, 2020 By Buck Vanniejenhuis, General Manager, Ardent Mills Canada
As we all know, organizations around the globe across all industries are finding ways to face COVID-19. We are innovatively adapting to many changes while we keep our people and food safe, make wise business decisions, care for our communities, and support the needs of people who are at home facing the “new normal.”
Business and consumer patterns are constantly changing, and each day presents new challenges and opportunities. Flour demand has been interesting to watch. There have been shifts to more home baking, leading to an increase in consumers purchasing retail flour. The closure or modifications to typical restaurant service has softened flour orders in foodservice. Additionally, we have witnessed an increase in demand for flour-based products like breads, pasta, cookies and crackers.
At Ardent Mills, we are committed to staying agile and our supply chain remains stable; wheat pipelines are in good shape and our network of facilities and deep relationships with carriers enable us to produce and deliver the quality ingredients that our customers require. Across 35 community mills spanning Canada, the U.S., and Puerto Rico, we continue to work hard to meet the industry’s changing needs and are in a great position to keep moving forward.
Flour production is an essential business in keeping nutritious grain-based food products available. Producing such products safely, and keeping our team members safe, is a value by which we operate.
Flour plays an important role in the food supply chain, which makes it critical to keep our team members and ingredients safe. By proactively enforcing strict policies and procedures, we are upholding our value of Safety at every turn.
“Our values of Trust, Serving, Simplicity, and Safety guide our decisions on every level and we have put the health and safety of our people first as we update and modify some of our protocols in this new environment,” said Dan Dye, CEO of Ardent Mills. “This pandemic has created an opportunity for Ardent Mills to continue living out our values and widely demonstrate how they are ingrained in everything we do.”
Resourcefulness is key! We have faced new challenges that required swift responses that impact the efficiency of our mills to meet our customer needs. The significant increase in demand for retail flour has necessitated creative solutions while navigating packaging availability and lead times. We are also working closely with foodservice distributors that are pivoting to directly service Canadian consumers.
We have team meetings every day across our Canadian network and also within our senior leadership team to ensure we are looking at potential opportunities or challenges and meet them with smart, savvy solutions.
Ardent Mills is dedicated to helping feed our communities during this time of critical need. Our Montreal facility donated 4 tons of flour to Tablée des Chefs’ Solidarity Kitchens. Through its food recovery program, La Tablée des Chefs acts as a liaison between surplus food donors and local community organizations to ensure the distribution of donated food to people in need.
Across our network, Ardent Mills has donated more than 1 million meals and more than 160,000 lbs. of products to a variety of nonprofits, bakeries and food banks.
With people staying home, there has definitely been a surge in interest for home baking. From Irish soda bread to sourdough, banana bread and homemade pizza, people are experimenting more in the kitchen and trying new recipes.
“People are rediscovering how baking and bread can bring comfort and a bit of stability at an uncertain time,” said Dye. “There has been a big push in demand during a short period, but we have worked closely with customers to navigate the shifting needs and wants of consumers.”
As a key ingredient in many food products from bread to crackers, and a staple in food pantries around the world, flour demand has held firm. It is too early to understand the future impacts of this global pandemic, but staying committed to our value of safety – both team member and food safety – has proven to be a major asset.
If you want to bake at home , Ardent Mills has developed recipes to help you. For an Irish Soda Bread recipe, traditional pizza recipe and more, visit https://ardentmills.ca/downloads/
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