Ardent Mills, a new joint operation of ConAgra, Cargill and CHS, is preparing to open its headquarters office in Denver in early 2014.
The combination brings together two of the nation’s leading flour milling companies: ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling, a Cargill-CHS joint venture formed in 2002.
Ardent Mills will take advantage of the combined assets, capabilities and experience of the three firms to bring a new facility for flour and grain products, services and solutions to the marketplace.
ConAgra Mills, already with a strong presence in Commerce City, a Denver neighbor, makes flour products like Ultragrain ConAgra has established extensive relationships with regional producers and the state’s wheat research system centered at Colorado State University.
'Colorado has unique advantages in the agriculture industry,' claims Ken Lund, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade executive director.
'We have a talented workforce, an innovative and pro-business climate, and offer a company like Ardent Mills a strong and inclusive statewide industry network made up of partners, higher education, research institutions and business leaders that can uniquely and effectively support them with their efforts and ensure their success.'
Ardent Mills will operate as an independent joint venture of its three parent companies, Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra, Minneapolis-based Cargill, and St. Paul, Minn.-based CHS.
The company functions with a 44-mill base in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
Cargill and ConAgra will each own a 44% share, CHS 12%, of the newcomer megamill. But the owners are no strange bedfellows, since Cargill and CHS have been running Horizon Milling in Minnesota for more than a decade, a venture commanding about 19% of the flour market.
The complex moved Horizon president Dan Dye to the new Denver campus as CEO. ConAgra Mills’ president is now the Ardent Mills chief operating officer.
The decision for Ardent Mills is viewed as one impacting most major grain producers in the West, many who have ConAgra, CHS or Cargill contracts. Just how this will impact producers is promised to be positive. 'The formation of Ardent Mills will provide more opportunities,' for farmers, according to a company spokesman, 'to add value to the wheat they raise and handle.'
The new firm is also touted as an avenue to additional sourcing opportunities in farming to 'enable growers to further connect to the consumer marketplace.'
A customer outreach effort is also underway to assure buyers that business as usual will continue or improve.
The impetus behind formation of yet another mill company is to do just that, the company states: serve bakery and food customers better via better grain sourcing.
The state’s wheat industry joins in the chorus of welcome for the new mill with a bid for a whole grain revolution that the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee feels can 'happen in Colorado.'
Colorado is already the largest source of the hard white winter wheat, Snowmass, says communications director Glenda Mostek, developed at Colorado State University and grown by state farmers. It is milled as Ultragrain whole wheat white four and Ultragrain High Performance Flour, both which have made significant market inroads for Colorado producers.
'We look forward to working with Ardent Mills to make Colorado’s agriculture economy even stronger' she adds.
For more on this story, see the September issue of Western Farmer Stockman.