This is the next in our series of Supply Side Innovators featured in our Bake Twentyfive issue. Each weekday, we will spotlight a new Supply Side Innovator that can help you create the flavors, textures, and designs your customers will love.

As the third-largest flour miller in the country, Grain Craft is both large enough to meet capacity needs but small enough to remain extraordinarily nimble. As customers adventure into new innovations, Grain Craft works with them to help navigate through ingredient challenges.

“We also listen and partner with our customers to develop possible opportunities for growth that are in-line with their strategic plans,” says Grain Craft’s senior communication manager Natalie Faulkner, who has more than 15 years experience in business-to-business marketing.

The expectation of “farm to fork” continues to be a factor in the future of bakery and foodservice, she points out. This concept can encompass many areas such as locally grown, artisan-inspired, organic and sustainable. Food providers are now making strategic product innovation decisions on not only ingredient and flavor trends but also on how to embrace these “farm to fork” practices for their specific products and services.

This concept also includes telling the story of how their product or service meets the “farm to fork” expectation through presentation, labeling, marketing, and introducing the consumer to the people behind the ingredients, Faulkner emphasizes. If the story meets the consumer’s expectations, there will most likely be a strong trust from the consumer to the food and foodservice places that they choose.

“Another trend we are seeing impact the industry is that consumers are savvier with food and technology than ever before,” she says. “Innovation in pairing the two together is only growing. This ranges from mobile orders at grocery stores, coffee shops and foodservice establishments to nutrition tracking apps, food delivery services, meal planning apps that automatically generate a grocery list, and quick-watch videos about the food and/or the people behind it.”

Consumers seem to be expecting more than easy foodservice from these technology-driven solutions, says Faulkner, who is responsible for developing, leading and implementing strategic communication plans across the business to further enhance the visibility and strength of Grain Craft. Consumers are also looking for offerings such as nutrition information, food and beverage pairing ideas, learning resources, and rewards opportunities.

“We will continue to supply bakeries with consistent, high performing flour that they can depend on as they experiment with new products,” Faulkner says. “While the flour itself is a tried and true ingredient, we are continuously looking for new opportunities and new product ideas to support our retail and foodservice bakeries in their endless journey of innovation. As bakers are trying new products, we welcome the opportunity for them to reach out to our technical team.”

Fast facts

Grain Graft’s technical team includes Nick Weigel, vice president of Quality, Regulatory & Technical Services; Charlie Nave, director of Technical Services; and Dave Krishock, bakery technical support manager. They work directly with bakery customers as a resource for dough, baking and process questions. They also work very closely with the Grain Craft quality assurance and test lab teams to advise on new harvest testing. Each member of this team is highly seasoned within the industry and each possesses their own unique specialties and knowledge for various products. In addition to field experts, Grain Craft also has strong teams in place at every flour mill to support specification variations and quality assurance.