Ardent Mills on December 7 announced it has completed the acquisition of substantially all the assets of Firebird Artisan Mills, Harvey, ND. Over the next several months the Firebird Artisan Mills brand and products will be fully integrated into Ardent Mills as the company continues to bolster its emerging nutrition offerings.  

Specializing in the milling of gluten-free specialty grains and pulses, Firebird was part of Agspring, a holding company based in Leawood, Kan. Under the Agspring umbrella, Firebird was established in 2014 with the acquisition of the assets of Dakota Prairie Organic Flour Co. in Harvey. In 2017, Firebird added two production lines to the Harvey operation and said it believed the company had become the “largest 100% dedicated, certified gluten-free and allergen-free flour mill in North America.”

“As we partner with our customers in the specialty ingredient and gluten-free space, we continue to strengthen our capabilities with a portfolio of solutions that our customers depend on and trust,” says Angie Goldberg, chief growth officer, Ardent Mills. “Integrating the Firebird Artisan Mills products and expertise into Ardent Mills will maximize the synergies in our offerings and enhance the customer experience.”

Ardent Mills says the acquisition builds upon its existing specialty ingredient and gluten-free solutions. The transaction also provides additional supply chain assurance and bolsters capabilities in Ardent Mills’ R&D, technical, food safety and quality assurance teams, the company noted.

Gluten-free grains that Ardent Mills will be able to mill at Harvey include amaranth, teff, millet, sorghum, buckwheat and quinoa, all gluten-free and non-GMO ingredients. Each would be available in organic or conventional versions. Additionally, for plant-based food applications, the Firebird mill processes peas, lentils, beans and rice. Ardent Mills said the Harvey facility will advance the company’s “plant-forward business.”

When the acquisition was announced in September, Dan Dye, chief executive officer of Ardent Mills, said Firebird and the other specialty businesses falling under The Annex by Ardent Mills should be viewed as a complement to the wheat flour business. He also noted that the value of Ardent Mills’ acquisition of Firebird and its growing portfolio of businesses in the specialty grain/milling space has been heightened by worsening supply chain challenges in recent months. By building out an integrated supply chain, the company will be “creating distinctive value” for its customers, he said.

The Firebird Artisan acquisition is the fourth for Ardent Mills since the beginning of 2019. Other acquisitions since include Hinrichs Trading Co., which specializes in cleaning and packaging chickpeas, in June 2021; Andean Natural’s quinoa operations, in February 2020; and an organic grain elevator in Klamath Falls, Ore., announced in July 2019. Also in 2019, Ardent Mills announced the addition of capabilities at its Denver mill to clean and pack intact specialty grains, pearl barley and dehull heirloom grains like emmer, einkorn and spelt.