Plans for a new flour mill in Washdyke will give Canterbury grain growers control and opportunities to add value to their product. The mill is being built by Farmers Mill, a new company set up by South Canterbury grain storage company Grainstor. General manager Dave Howell said it was thought to be the first new mill built in New Zealand in 25 years. It will be a showcase...

Plans for a new flour mill in Washdyke will give Canterbury grain growers control and opportunities to add value to their product.

The mill is being built by Farmers Mill, a new company set up by South Canterbury grain storage company Grainstor. General manager Dave Howell said it was thought to be the first new mill built in New Zealand in 25 years.

It will be a showcase with state-of-the-art equipment not seen before in New Zealand, designed to mill soft wheat to a higher standard than some older equipment. It will produce premium biscuit, baking and bread flours to the specifications of high-end customers.

"There are no New Zealand-owned mills and we wanted to have some control and add value over our own product that we grow," Mr Howell said. "Everyone's talking about food miles and locally owned products and that is where we want to go."

South Canterbury farmers mostly took their wheat to Christchurch to be milled. The freight costs were huge, he said. There was room in the market for another mill and using locally grown grain would provide a unique point of difference, he said.

The new company would embrace a "paddock to plate" philosophy and provide full traceability.

The mill would also give New Zealand bakers the choice to buy locally owned and milled flour, and feedback from independent bakers and potential end customers had so far been very positive. "There's been a huge level of support so far from it and I think the farmers will really get in behind it."

The mill would initially employ five to seven staff, but this is expected to grow. "This is a very exciting development for us and we hope this will bolster confidence in the arable industry in South and Mid Canterbury, which has been under increasing pressure from dairy conversions in recent years." Construction of the mill is expected to start in the next six weeks and is hoped to be completed by early next year.

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 05:00 03/04/2012

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