Ardent to buy major Ontario soft wheat mill

Mondelez will shed storied mill site for undisclosed sum

Mondelez's brands in Canada include Oreo cookies, which marked their 100th anniversary with this giant replica unveiled in 2012 in Toronto. (CNW Group/Kraft Canada)

The owner of Canada’s Robin Hood flour mills is poised to buy the biggest soft wheat milling operation in the country.

Ardent Mills, the joint North American flour venture of agrifood giants Cargill, CHS Inc. and ConAgra, announced Thursday it will buy the former Kraft Milling operation in Mississauga, Ont. from Mondelez Canada for an undisclosed sum.

The site of the Mondelez facility, along the Credit River in Mississauga’s Streetsville area, has hosted flour milling operations since the 1830s, but ramped up operations starting in 1968, when it converted from a river-powered operation to a pneumatic electric-powered mill.

The mill operation was sold to cookie manufacturer Christie Brown and Co. in 1969, then went to Kraft Foods in 2000. In 2012 the mill became part of snack giant Mondelez Canada, formed when Kraft spun off its grocery business, including the Christie and Nabisco cookie and cracker lines.

According to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the Mississauga mill is the largest soft wheat flour mill in Canada and the second-biggest in North America, sourcing wheat primarily from growers in the surrounding region.

As of 2009, the facility had peak annual production capacity of 130,000 tonnes of soft wheat and hard wheat flour.

The deal, expected to close in the next few weeks, marks Ardent’s first acquisition since the joint venture was formed last year.

Ardent said Thursday the Mississauga mill, which makes soft- and hard-wheat flours for Mondelez brands and for other processors, will “add to its capabilities to serve food manufacturers across Canada.”

The mill’s staff, which today numbers over 30 people, is expected to join Ardent when the deal closes, the company said.

Ardent CEO Dan Dye said the mill has a “strong team in place” and the buyer wants to “nourish this facility and its people as we serve our Canadian customers and ultimately consumers with safe, nutritious grain-based products.”

Dye said the company is “excited about this mill’s future and we’re confident we can leverage our innovation and supply chain capabilities, after the transaction closes.”

The expanding Mississauga mill in recent years has run up against residential development of the surrounding area.

Kraft, at the OMB in 2009, successfully appealed against a move by Mississauga officials that would have limited any further expansion of mill operations to five per cent of the existing plant floor space. The city’s move would also have allowed nearby land to be redesignated for high-density residential development.

Ardent’s other operations in Canada include the former Robin Hood flour mills in Montreal and Saskatoon; the former Robin Hood dry baking mix plants at Burlington, Ont. and Saskatoon; and a product development facility at Burlington.

Horizon Milling, the ConAgra/CHS venture that brought those assets to Ardent, had also planned in late 2011 to build another flour mill on land it owns at Guelph to serve food processing customers in the southwestern Ontario market. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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