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A Quality Gluten Free Milling Partner You Can Depend on Now and In the Future

COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the labor gap that continues to grow in agriculture, food production and manufacturing. At the 2020 Kansas Ag Growth Summit, presenters “identified a critical need for an agricultural workforce able and willing to meet the skilled labor demand.” 

“Flour millers globally saw a rapid increase in demand as quarantine and shelter-in-place orders worldwide panicked consumers who started stockpiling flour and other grain-based foods,” says World Grain. Even manufacturers producing standard grains felt the strain, but those marketing specialized, customized blends – the type of blends that require real expertise to produce – often succeeded or failed based on the strength of their milling partner. 

Deloitte estimates the manufacturing labor shortage will reach 2.4 million by 2028, a gap that will not “be solved by a sudden influx of employees after COVID-19 restrictions are eased,” says Forbes

Coupled with the already rapidly-growing labor shortage in the US, specifically in the agriculture market, manufacturers need quality partners staffed by skilled workers they can count on. 

Finding a mill staffed by workers with the experience to create the blend you need while following the stringent USDA grain handling practices is a challenge in itself. Finding one with a truly allergen-friendly facility is even more difficult. And finding a partner with true expertise in blending – the flavor and texture properties of various grains, which blends are appropriate for which uses, and how the absence of gluten affects the strength of a proprietary blended grain product – can feel downright impossible. 

Until you talk to the team at Firebird Artisan Mills. 

Firebird supports food manufacturers by providing standard or customized blends of gluten-free, conventional or organic, allergen-friendly specialty grains and pulse with an unmatched degree of quality. 

Here are just some of the advantages that set Firebird apart: 

  • Our 36,000 square-foot facility is completely gluten-free and allergen-friendly. We do not handle or process gluten or any of the top eight allergens anywhere within our plant at any time.
  • Expert staff, rigorous quality control of risk assessment, inbound and outbound testing, and proven processes combine to justify the trust customers and partners place in our team every day.
  • We provide a one-stop-shop to mill and blend in one dedicated BRC AA-rated facility with top-notch quality control.
  • Our expert team will work with you to advise on a turnkey mill solution or customized blend, all the way from ingredient sourcing to packaging.
  • We purchase and warehouse an expansive supply of minor ingredients and starch ingredients as well as provide the option to include specific customer-provided ingredients.
  • Our plant has the unique ability to produce a truckload of proprietary blend per day.
  • We offer package options ranging from 25 and 50 lb. bags all the way to 2000 lb. totes and supersacks.
  • With Firebird, you can customize your blend formula under a non-disclosure agreement. 
  • Our process flow and equipment ensure safety and quality from start to finish.
  • We make your mill experience easy. One call, one invoice, one shipment and consolidated suppliers with one blend to source your multiple specialty grains and pulses.

We would love the opportunity to discuss your needs and identify the best solution for you to take to market. Contact us at 701-324-4330 or news@firebirdmills.com – our team can’t wait to get to know you. 

Sunflower Flour: An Affordable, Allergen-free Alternative to Almond Flour

Over the past few years, almond products have gone mainstream. Almond milk is a staple at coffeeshops country-wide, and almond flour has become popular in gluten-free and grain-free cooking and baking, leading bakeries and food manufacturers to rely heavily on it for these applications.

But there are two major downsides to almond flour – its prevalence as an allergen and its comparatively high cost.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to almond flour … and it isn’t just an adequate replacement, it’s better. It’s sunflower flour. 

Sunflower flour is emerging as an allergen-friendly, lower-cost alternative to almond flour and other gluten-free, grain-free options. It is also readily available and works well as a 1-1 replacement for wheat flour in most recipes. Again, it is a better replacement than almond flour, primarily due to its finer particle size and mild taste. Whereas almond flour is typically 10-16 mesh with a soft, gritty texture, sunflower flour is 20 mesh, which gives it a finer, smoother texture that blends well with other ingredients. 

Firebird’s plant is a dedicated gluten-free, allergen-friendly facility where we do not process any of the top eight allergens

If you’re looking for an upgraded alternative to almond flour, contact Firebird Artisan Mills. We would love to discuss our sunflower flour distribution and sunflower flour blends. Reach out to one of our experts a call at 701-324-4330 or news@firebirdmills.com.

Growing Alabama Bakery Trusts Firebird Artisan Mills to Help Them Do What They Do Best: Excellent Service to Gluten-Free Customers

Firebird Artisan Mills works with a wide variety of customers, and our passion is helping to solve their problems when it comes to gluten-free products.

That’s why we were excited when we met the Mason Dixon Bakery, a rapidly-growing gluten-free business in Alabama. Owners Ashley and Taylor Ramirez have high standards for their customers and a commitment to serving their gluten-free community.

Mason Dixon logo“When I first spoke with Taylor and Ashley, their passion for the gluten-free industry was apparent,” said Firebird’s Zak Matthews. “We jumped right in to identify where they were expanding and how Firebird could help them streamline their processes. As we talked about ways to help them save time and money was pre-blending their recipes.

“Our closed-loop system ensures 100% safety for customers,” Zak explained. “It allows us to deliver a recipe-ready mix to Mason Dixon. It streamlines their processes and gives them freedom to focus on what they do best.” This solution was a natural fit.

Taylor replied, “Working with Firebird helps our business. Having them blend ingredients allows our bakers to bake instead of ordering pallets of numerous flours and having to spend time mixing. The bakers can now purchase the end mix and spend their time baking the finished product.”

“Our Firebird experience has been great,” Taylor added. “They are very responsive and we can always get in touch. The customer service has been stellar. With a few different options in the flour market, you have to be able to differentiate yourself from competitors with excellent customer service and Firebird did just that.”

Investigation, service, and an understanding of quality and business integrity has forged a great partnership between Firebird and Mason Dixon. Firebird Artisan Mills looks forward to many more projects with the Mason Dixon Bakery and continuously growing the relationship between the two companies.

Everyone needs a partner they can trust to help evaluate their business. We’d like to be yours. Contact us today at news@firebirdmills.com  if you are looking to streamline your processes.

Lasting Trends in the Gluten-Free Market

Due to a growing market for gluten-free foods and the purchasing savviness of the gluten-free consumer, brands are utilizing a progressive approach to create and keep up with trends in the gluten-free space. A variety of new product lines are developing regularly and marketed to this unique market. New gluten-free products include sectors of foods, such as pre-packaged snacks, as well as gluten-free ingredients, such a coconut flour. Below are a few of the lasting trends we have been tracking in the Gluten-Free market.

Customized Baking Blends

A trend in gluten-free, which is here to stay based on steady consumer demand, is customized baking blends. Firebird Mills is progressive in fulfilling this need – at Firebird Mills, we offer Custom Gluten-Free Mixes that retailers can request based on their specific need. This creates an added attentiveness to consumer demand and convenience for purchase to the individual consumer.

Use of Quinoa, Black Bean & Sweet Sorghum Flour

One popular gluten-free trend that does not seem to be going anywhere is pasta noodles made from quinoa flour and black bean flour. Firebird Mills proudly offers both of these flours, and a customized mix of the two is available upon request.

Sweet sorghum flour, also one of Firebird Mills high quality flour products, is rising in popularity due to its powerhouse of nutritional properties, and flavor that it adds to gluten-free baking. It is versatile in its use and provides the texture, taste and nutrition that is so frequently sought-after in the gluten-free community.

Add-ons in Baked Goods

Another popular trend in the gluten-free community is using add-ons in baked goods, such as chia seeds and flaxseeds for better nutrition and texture. By providing the variety of flours that are most popular for baking, as well as Gluten-Free quick breads and cakes mixes, cookies, and all-purpose blends, Firebird Mills makes baking solutions easy and convenient. By providing a particularly-purposed flour mix, consumers have the added convenience of simpler baking recipes, and the added luxury of adding nutritional ingredients to their 3-step pizza pie recipe. Some popular baking mixes Firebird Mills offers include: pizza crusts, pie crusts, cup for cup baking blends, muffins, waffles and more.

To learn more about gluten-free customized blends, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 701-324-4330 or email us at news@firebirdmills.com.

Firebird Artisan Mills Expands to Serve Growing Gluten-Free Market

With the addition of two new production lines, Firebird Artisan Mills has boosted their capacity to likely become the largest 100% dedicated, certified gluten-free and allergen-free flour mill in North America.

“When you factor efficiency improvements, this expansion nearly triples our plant capacity to about seven million pounds, and enables us to be a better strategic partner for our customers,” says Director of Operations Brady Eckart. “We’ll have greater flexibility in meeting our customers’ scheduling needs, which is incredibly important as we work to help get their products to market safely and quickly.”

Firebird is one of a very few dedicated gluten-free, allergen-free and non-GMO mills in the world that produces bulk flours, mixes/blends onsite, and packaged goods for both wholesale and retail channels. With rigorous safety practices, extensive industry knowledge, and quick response times, Firebird has earned a reputation for being a reliable supplier to manufacturers serving gluten-free, allergen-free and GMO-conscious consumers.

Firebird Artisan Mills operations is based in Harvey, ND, staffed by milling veteran including operators, quality assurance, logistics and sales professionals. Plant tours can be requested by customers and the media.


Learn About the Latest Gluten-Free Developments from Firebird at Natural Products Expo East

Stop by booth 8027 and say hello, or spend a little time with us at Morton’s Thursday night from 6 to 8:30. We’re hosting our fourth annual happy hour networking event and we’d love to have you join us! We’d love to hear about what’s new with you, your latest projects and how we can help improve your gluten-free supply chain.

If visiting at a show-style environment isn’t your cup of tea, drop us an email or pick up the phone and call Chris Krenzel, Dave Braun, or Zak Matthews to schedule an appointment.

To see what other events we will be in attendance, visit our Events page.


Industry News

More trends in muffins: Fiesty flavors and fresh ingredients to watch in this category.

Specialty bakeries on the rise: A look at what kinds of bakeries are succeeding in today’s market.

Transparency in restaurant gluten-free options: Gluten-free menu items are on the upswing, but most restaurants are not gluten-free facilities.

Why Gluten-Free?

The Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal states that one percent of the United States population have been diagnosed with celiac disease, a long-term digestive disorder that damages the intestinal lining. Celiac disease sufferers cannot eat gluten, which is a protein found in barley, rye and wheat.

More than 3 million people in the U.S. without a diagnosis of celiac disease eat a gluten-free diet on a regular basis. Researchers are not yet clear why those without a celiac diagnosis – referred to as people who avoid gluten (PWAG) – make the effort to eat gluten-free. Some may simply feel better when they reduce their gluten intake, which is a difficult measurement to quantify.

However, what is clear is that the gluten-free label makes a difference in the shelf-stable baking ingredients category. SPINS® data comparing sales in baking mix, ingredients and flour from 2015-2016 confirms that products labeled “gluten-free” are outselling their conventional counterparts.*

Category % Change Labeled Gluten‑Free % Change Total Category
Overall + 5.9 -3.5
Baking Ingredients + 8.4 -2.0
Baking Mixes + 2.8 -4.8
Flours + 4.6 -8.2
Pancake and Waffle Mixes + 2.7 0.2

 

When looking at the baking category overall, sales were down 3.5 percent from 2015 to 2016. But those products with gluten-free claims actually increased by nearly 6 percent. Gluten-free flours were up nearly 5 percent while the total category had dropped over 8 percent.

Naturally gluten-free baking ingredients such as ancient grain and pulse flours are enjoying some interest among consumers who are health-driven and have the time or enjoy baking in their own kitchens. If you’re looking for ways to help boost your sales, these flours are worth trying. Contact us with questions or for a free sample.

*Source: SPINS® data from natural, specialty and conventional multi-outlet retailers – total U.S. 52 weeks ending 2/19/17 and 2/21/16. “Labeled Gluten-Free” categories included products labeled gluten-free on front, side or back of pack not including ingredient statement. Category as a whole included shelf-stable baking mix, ingredients, and flour.

 


There’s still time – come meet our new team members at IFT!

Zak Matthews

Zak Matthews

Dave Braun

Dave Braun

Between our plant expansion project and adding new faces to the sales force, Firebird Artisan Mills is growing fast.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area and planning to attend IFT June 25-28, be sure to stop by booth 5070 and meet our newest members of the team, Dave Braun and Zak Matthews. Better yet – avoid the chaos, call Dave (303) 945-6520 or Zak (419) 420-5730 today and make plans to connect.

About our newest teammates:

Dave Braun is a milling industry veteran with more than 35 years of experience with milling and consumer goods. Zak Matthews joins Firebird after gaining valuable expertise in sales, customer experience and logistics with food/ingredients heavy hitters like WhiteWave Foods and ADM.

 


Industry News

Click the links below for a look at some of the stories we’re watching.

Powerful, protein-packed pulses  Baking Business reviews some of the benefits and applications of pulses.

Lessons from niche marketing  Bakery and Snacks identifies ways to spice up your stagnant marketing plan.

In-store gluten-free bakery gets a boost  Bakery and Snacks showcases how one baking industry veteran filled a much-needed in-store gap.

Three Highlights from Natural Products Expo East

Firebird was one of more than 1,450 exhibitors at the largest Natural Products Expo East on record at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Unlike the famed “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mantra, what happens at Expo East is designed to spread like wildfire. And when it comes to supporting natural, organic, gluten- or allergen-free products, we’ll gladly fan the flames. Bushels of exciting products, interesting people and dynamic brands were on display this year, and it was a challenge to distill the event into a few choice highlights. But we put our heads together and came up with three aspects of the show that really resonated.

A 2017 Sneak Peak 

Early fall is the perfect time for brands to preview new products, and this year’s event didn’t disappoint. More than 360 new products debuted at Expo East. It’s always exciting to talk with forward-looking people and get an advanced look at trends.

We’re Always Learning

This is a quick-moving industry, so Expo East helps us stay current by providing a way to engage with people from all sides of the industry. Seminars and panel discussions offer unique perspectives on developments in organic, retail leadership and merchandising, branding, and much more. Even if you can’t make it to the seminars, there are lots of opportunities to exchange ideas with knowledgeable people.

Our Annual Cocktail Hour at Morton’s is Unrivaled

What began a couple of years ago as an alternative to exhibiting has now become something of a tradition. Every year, Firebird hosts an informal networking reception at Morton’s Steakhouse to give our customers an opportunity to unwind after a day on the show floor. This year’s event was the best yet, with outstanding company, conversation, and delicious food and drink.


Come see Firebird at the International Baking Industry Exposition or PLMA

Visit with us at booth 11653 at the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas Oct. 8-11. Or stop by booth F3930 at the Private Label Manufacturers Association trade show in Chicago Nov. 13-15. We look forward to connecting with colleagues, meeting new people, and catching up with customers.

If you can’t make it to the shows this fall, connect with us at 701-324-4330 or email your sales representative.


Related Stories from Industry Friends 

Light up pretzel baking with gluten-free options.

Where’s the growth? Natural and specialty.

Firebird Featured on Food Navigator

Food Navigator’s Elizabeth Crawford stopped by the Firebird booth at IFT16 to talk gluten-free grains and more with our own Chris Krenzel. We’ve got the story here.

Firebird Artisan Mills to Showcase Gluten-Free, Ancient Grain, Pulses at IFT16

See What We’ve Got to Offer at Booth 3492

July is the perfect time to visit Chicago’s McCormick Place, because that’s when the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo 2016 happens.  IFT16 is a favorite event at Firebird, because it brings together industry professionals from all over the world to discuss the industry’s best science, most innovative strategies and newest solutions to inform your work and improve your business.

If you’re like us, you’re looking forward to catching up with colleagues and talking about new opportunities. Come see us at booth 3492, and be sure to check out some of the other things we’re excited to see:

In Trend by IFT (booth 2242) – IFT has recognized gluten-free as a trend category to watch, and we couldn’t agree more. They’ve also identified protein (pulses, beans and many ancient grains we process are high in protein), and health and wellness as hot categories for innovation and solution-spotting.

All That and a Bag of Chips (healthy snacking presentation) – We’d like to think our gluten-free ancient grains and pulses have something good to contribute in this arena, and we love the chance to learn more.

What are you going to see at IFT? Have any goals for the show? We’d love to help. Give us a call at 701.324.4330 or drop us an email before the show.

Be sure to stop by booth 3492 to tell us anything that’s on your mind, or just to say hello.


Related Stories from Industry Friends 

Ancient grains provide a back-to-basics approach to food preparation

The artisan bread renaissance


Click here to see our upcoming events. 

Firebird Artisan Mills Partnership is Part of Bakery’s Recipe for Success

MyBread Gluten Free Bakery was a small shop in 2013, a one-man artisanal bakery with a singular vision: to provide a delicious, versatile, gluten-free bread alternative.

In 2011, founder Dan Gallagher and his mom refined a recipe for a gluten-free flatbread that celiac sufferers could use for anything from pizza to sandwich buns.

That’s where his relationship with Firebird Artisan Mills Director of sales Chris Krenzel came in. “I was baking in the evening and selling in the morning, trying to get off the ground, and Chris was extremely supportive from the beginning,” Gallagher said. “His industry knowledge, from pricing to blending to sourcing, made a huge difference for me as a small business owner.”

At the outset, MyBread sourced 10 to 12 bags of flour through Firebird and blended onsite. As the business grew and Gallagher had more orders to fill, he began ordering by the pallet. Then he learned that Firebird is a full-service mill with custom blending, retail and bulk packaging capabilities.

“Chris showed me how Firebird could help with custom blending – ultimately saving time and cost, and keeping the product consistent. Everybody says they want to partner,” he added. “But Firebird truly is a phenomenal strategic partner. Their safety and operations standards, their response times – everyone on the team makes you feel like your success is their priority.”

MyBread’s success is even more important because, as the company continues to grow, Gallagher actively gives back to the Chicago community. MyBread participates in the Empowerment program, a work-rehabilitation opportunity for nonviolent, nonsexual offenders.

“I think when we have the chance to help people, give them another chance to succeed, that’s the right thing to do,” Gallagher said. “We’ve seen a lot of success with it, and I’m glad to be in a position to create jobs and training in the city.”


Related Stories from Industry Friends 

Suppliers and stores need to work together to make natural and organic accessible

Non-GMO poised for growth – and other highlights from the Fancy Food Show here


Will we see you in Vegas? Click here to see our upcoming events.