Milling & Baking News - June 5, 2018 - 7


Hopeful signs in new milling investments


onsolidation in U.S. flour milling has pro- in constructing new flour mills, modernizing its existgressed to a point that the number of merger ing facilities and in expanding through acquisition in
and acquisition announcements has slowed the Central states and the Southeast.
markedly from the rapid pace of transactions that ocThe entry into milling ownership of a new playcurred year after year in the second half of the 20th er - Savage Companies - is also of great interest.
century. Measured against the recent period of relative Even considering the changes that have transpired in
quiet or more sporadic activity, the announcement of milling over the last half century, the appearance of
two separate milling industry deals over the course of Savage represents something new. For decades, the
a few days in May warrants note. The transactions say parent organizations of flour milling companies have
much about the state of milling today.
had origins essentially in one of three businesses -
On May 15, Savage Companies and Bartlett and flour milling/grain processing, food processing or
Company announced a merger agreement that will grain. Savage breaks this mold, with its focus prinbring Bartlett Grain Co. and Bartlett Milling Co. un- cipally on rail, truck and marine transportation, loder the umbrella of Salt Lake City-based Savage, a gistics, materials handling and other industrial and
logistics and transportation company. Two days later, environmental services. For their part, Bartlett execuThe Mennel Milling Co. announced it had reached tives have emphasized the similarity of the two coman agreement to acquire Keynes
panies' cultures as a key to the
More recently, surging costs
Bros., Logan, Ohio. Keynes operdecision to merge Bartlett's grain
ates a flour mill in Logan as well
and uncertain availability
and milling businesses with Savas several country elevators.
age. The transaction also should
have brought ever greater
As noteworthy as the rapid-fire
be viewed as affirming the imattention to the importance
pace at which the transactions were
portance transportation plays in
of transportation in milling
announced is the remarkable lega- (and across the food industry). milling economics. This influence
cy of the three milling companies
has been key to the gradual shift
involved. It is difficult to imagine any other U.S. indus- of flour production assets toward population centers.
try in which combinations of companies with such rich More recently, surging costs and uncertain availabilheritages would still be possible in 2018. Keynes Bros. ity have brought ever greater attention to the impororigins date to 1855, with the first Keynes family mem- tance of transportation in milling (and across the food
ber (Robert W.) acquiring a mill in 1869. The business industry). Bartlett's partnering with a transportation
has remained in the Keynes family for five generations. specialist injects a potentially powerful new dynamic
Mennel Milling also is a five-generation business, es- into milling's competitive landscape.
tablished in 1886 in Fostoria, Ohio, where the company
The fact that the successful acquirer of Keynes or
is still headquartered. Kansas City-based Bartlett is the Bartlett was not one of the industry's largest milling
newest company of the three, having been established companies is certainly worthy of note. That Savage
"only" 110 years ago and entering the milling business was interested in acquiring a mid-size milling comstill far more recently.
pany and Mennel's continued growth both testify to
Despite the age of the businesses, all three compa- the viability and even attractiveness in 2018 of regionnies have meaningfully built on their legacies during al companies - a hopeful sign for milling. Bartlett,
the past generation. Keynes Bros. nearly doubled the Mennel and Keynes combined account for roughly 6
capacity of its Ohio mill in 1999, and Bartlett in 2007 per cent of U.S. flour milling capacity. At a time when
acquired one of the most technologically advanced flour demand trends have been disheartening, the sigflour mills in the United States, in Wilson's Mills, N.C. nificant investments in milling by Savage and Mennel
Mennel has been active over the past generation both represent a welcome and encouraging sign. MBN

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