Ardent Mills showcased its unique and newly-named Innovative Bakery Resources (I.B.R.) plant in Tualatin on July 29 with a press briefing, tour and open house.
I.B.R. is unique in that the 90,000-square-foot facility is both an active baking plant, the only one owned by Ardent Mills, and a development and testing facility for both Ardent ingredients and customer applications. The plant complements Ardent’s equally unique Mobile Innovation Center and its 50,000-square-foot specialty mix plant in Arlington, Ore.
“Our facility and our specialty mix facility are a real ‘one-two punch’ allowing major food customers to use our high quality ingredients, customizable lines and custom blends to support regional pilots and national product launches,” said Scott Dillingham, manager of I.B.R.
I.B.R. serves as a “launching pad” where customers may “scale up” production of a new product ahead of market release, said Bill Stoufer, chief operating officer at Ardent Mills.
“With I.B.R. we are able to use our great ingredients to produce innovative high-inclusion bread with fillings, swirls, marbling, toppings and enrobings while providing hand-touch care to every loaf at commercial scale,” Mr. Stoufer said. “I.B.R. is part think tank and artisan bakery, allowing us to partner with food manufacturers as well as retail and food service enterprises, to bring complex baked goods to the consumer market.”
I.B.R. currently bakes several types of bread sold in the western United States at the Tualatin plant with production of about 250 loaves an hour. The facility was opened in 2012 with abundant space available for growth. At the same time, smaller batches of “test” products may be run through the same plant to meet the needs of customers who do not choose or who don’t have the ability to do such “real-time” tests themselves.
The I.B.R. plant allows Ardent and its customers to take advantage of the latest trends in the industry as they develop new products, Mr. Stoufer said. It is both Global Food Safety Initiative and organic certified and may support fresh and frozen applications.
The original Tualatin plant began as an artisan bakery several decades ago before becoming part of Cargill, and then part of Ardent Mills that was formed in May 2014 through a joint venture of ConAgra Foods, Inc., CHS Inc. and Cargill.