King Milling Co., Michigan’s largest flour miller, on April 10 celebrated the completion of the latest expansion of its flour milling complex — a new six-floor, 35,000-square-foot concrete mill that can produce up to 7,500 cwts of flour per day.

A ribbon-cutting was held outside the new “D” mill and included remarks by representatives from the offices of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, US Senator Debbie Stabenow and US Representative John Moolenaar as well as city leaders and members of the Doyle family, which has owned King Milling for five generations.  

“King Milling is proud to continue a century-plus tradition of providing premium flours to some of our country’s most popular consumer brands and restaurant chains,” Brian Doyle, chairman and chief executive officer, told the gathering. “Fueled by strong customer demand, this expansion is the largest single investment we have made — and we are grateful for the State of Michigan and City of Lowell for their partnership in this expansion project.”

The $47 million project, which began in 2022 and was completed this winter, involved erecting the mill as well as two slipform concrete wheat storage bins that are attached to it. The bins add 150,000 tonnes of wheat storage capacity to the complex, increasing the overall total to 3.6 million bushels.

“The new mill is a significant investment not only for King Milling but for Michigan agriculture,” said Jim Doyle, president of King Milling. “This represents a commitment to Michigan farmers, helping to fuel greater demand for their wheat. In addition, the mill’s feed byproduct will provide significant food and fiber to Michigan’s growing animal (protein) sector.”

The expansion project received a 12-year, 50% tax abatement from the City of Lowell and a $250,000 Food and Agriculture Investment Program grant from the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). 

“Today, we see the incredible results of those funds with King Milling’s expansion,” said Timothy Boring, director of MDARD. “An estimated 90% of King Milling’s products are sold regionally, further adding value to our wheat growers and local supply chains. Companies like King Milling are showing why Michigan continues to be a destination for food and agriculture businesses looking to grow while increasing innovation and outcomes.” 

The D mill features milling equipment supplied by Bühler, Inc., Plymouth, Minn., and automation systems supplied by Kice Industries, Inc., Wichita, Kan. Todd & Sargent, Inc., Ames, Iowa, served as the general contractor.

The new facility, which King Milling describes as “the country’s most modern flour mill,” features the latest in energy-efficient design. The fully insulated building uses all LED lighting, premium-efficient motors and a heat recovery system in which process heat is used to preheat intake air. This sustainable design reduces fossil fuel use when operating in colder temperatures.

With the addition of the D mill, dedicated almost entirely to the production of hard wheat flour, King Milling’s total daily flour production capacity is now 24,500 cwts, which ranks 14th among US milling companies, according to the 2023 Grain & Milling Annual, published by Sosland Publishing Co.

The company’s A mill is a swing mill, producing hard wheat and soft wheat flour; the B mill (added in 2014) produces hard wheat patent flour; and a C mill produces whole wheat flour.

In 2022, Brian Doyle told Milling & Baking News that while the new mill will produce hard wheat flour, the decision to build the facility was prompted by strong demand for both hard wheat and soft wheat flour. He said the addition will “take pressure off the A mill” as the company seeks to keep pace with demand.

Already the largest flour miller in the state, King Milling now accounts for about half of Michigan’s flour milling capacity, based on data in the 2023 Grain & Milling Annual.

The company mills soft red, soft white, hard red winter and hard red spring wheats, either individually or blended, and produces varieties of white flour, whole wheat flour and wheat bran as well as its Super Kleaned Wheat and Ceres products. 

King Milling’s Ceres line features wheat processed through a proprietary process developed in the 1960s that deactivates enzymes for a longer shelf life. While most of King Milling’s flour is sold in bulk to food processors, consumers can buy a few of the company’s branded flours at Gordon Food Service Stores, Heffron Farm Markets in Grand Rapids and Red Barn Market in Lowell.

King Milling, which has more than 60 employees, is the oldest continually operating business in Kent County, which includes the city of Grand Rapids. The company has operated the flour milling complex in Lowell since 1890.

“For five generations, King Milling has been a staple in Kent County and a driving force in Michigan agriculture,” Stabenow said. “By opening one of the most modern flour mills in the country right here in West Michigan, they have ensured that they will continue to be at the heart of their community for generations to come.”