In another step to expand the company’s position in the specialty ingredients market, Ardent Mills LLC on Feb. 25 said it is purchasing substantially all of the business operations of Hinrichs Trading Co. (HTC), a major player in the North American chickpea market.

Ardent Mills said the acquisition is part of a strategic growth plan to diversify its portfolio of customer solutions, building on its existing flour milling business. The companies are in the midst of due diligence but expect the transaction to close in April. Once completed, the HTC business will be incorporated into The Annex, the Ardent Mills specialty ingredients business.

Headquartered in Pullman, Washington, Hinrichs Trading Co. operates across five locations in Washington and Montana. The company contracts production of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with long-term growers across US production areas.

Family-owned, Hinrichs Trading Co. has more than 30 years of chickpea experience, having been involved in the production and supply of the ingredient since it was first introduced into the United States.

“Ardent Mills and Hinrichs Trading Co. share a strong commitment to our growers, customers, team members, communities, and to growth and innovation,” says Dan Dye, chief executive officer of Ardent Mills. “There is a strong cultural alignment and shared values across both organizations. We look forward to welcoming the talented Hinrichs Trading Co. team to the Ardent Mills family.” 

Meeting customers growing needs for plant-based and specialty ingredients will be facilitated by the business combination, says Phil Hinrichs, chief executive officer of HTC.

“We were looking for a partner that had the expertise to take the chickpea market to the next level and provide new opportunities for our team member and our growers,” he says. “Ardent Mills is that partner. They bring operational and technical expertise, access to new markets and the ability to scale quickly and sustainable. Hinrichs Trading Co. complements that with our extensive chickpea sourcing knowledge and extremely close grower connections.”

Ardent Mills’ characterized the transaction as another step toward fulfilling its commitment to the future of specialty ingredients and plant genetics. The Annex is the company’s division targeting these areas. Recent acquisitions that have become part of The Annex include Andean Naturals’ quinoa operations in February 2020; an organic grain elevator in Klamath Falls, Oregon; and added capabilities in its Denver RiNo community mill to clean and pack specialty grains.

“The plant-based food and beverage market shows no sign of slowing down,” says Shrene White, general manager of The Annex by Ardent Mills. “In fact, we continue to see significant growth as consumers look to foods that align with their individual values — both personal and planetary. Ardent Mills has made proactive investments to meet this demand. This potential venture will enable us to offer diverse chickpea solutions to our customers from day one.”

In addition to the company’s 35 flour mills, a specialty bakery, two mix facilities and a gluten-free facility, The Annex by Ardent Mills has a dedicated team focused on specialty grains and plant-based ingredients. The product portfolio of The Annex includes quinoa, ancient and heirloom grains, gluten-free, organic grains and flours, chickpeas, as well as innovations such as Sustagrain High-Fiber Barley, White Sonora and heirloom wheat.