Ardent Mills quinoa
Great Plains Quinoa will offer up to a two-year price guarantee.

DENVER — Ardent Mills on March 9 said it is launching Great Plains Quinoa, which features a quinoa growing network in North America and will offer up to a two-year price guarantee. The program will bring the transparency, scale and consistent quality needed to support mainstream growth of quinoa with consumers, food manufacturers, bakeries, retailers and restaurants in the United States and Canada, according to Denver-based Ardent Mills.

“The quinoa market is often affected by South American supply challenges and spikes in pricing,” said Mike Veal, vice-president of marketing for Ardent Mills. “With all the unique aspects and certainty of this program, we are introducing locally grown quinoa under our new Ardent Mills Great Plains Quinoa brand.

“This will help clearly define our quinoa as grown in North America along with all the assurances that are available from Ardent Mills. Assurances include supporting North American family farms in the program and our commitment to food safety, quality, supply and transparency. We are also committed to price predictability and can offer up to a two-year price guarantee.”

Quinoa use has experienced double-digit growth in entrees, sides and children’s menus, Ardent Mills said in citing Technomic, Inc.’s Soup & Salad Consumer: Left Side of the Menu Report 2016. Sales from products containing quinoa grew seven-fold from 2012-2016. Quinoa increasingly is used in nutrition bars, ready-to-eat cereal, oatmeal, gluten-free foods, tortilla chips, crackers, snacks, prepared dinners and side dishes.

Bill Stoufer, Ardent Mills
Bill Stoufer, c.o.o. for Ardent Mills

“Ardent Mills is joining forces with North American quinoa farmers to ensure both supply and predictable pricing for quinoa whether as an entree, side dish, in artisan-style bread or in many other culinary applications,” said Bill Stoufer, chief operating officer for Ardent Mills. “We are always looking for ways that grains can nourish what’s next for communities, customers and consumers. We are applying our leading food safety standards, operations expertise, grower and customer relationships to support the growth of this great tasting and nutritious food.”

ConAgra Mills, before becoming part of Ardent Mills, began promoting quinoa as part of its Ancient Grains line in 2007. Ardent Mills now offers the Ancient Grains line.

Joe Dutchesen, a farmer working with Ardent Mills, began evaluating different varieties of South American quinoa seeds on his family farm in 1992. Traditional selective breeding over a period of 15 years allowed the farm to produce a North American quinoa that is acclimated to the cooler climate and has a variety of natural resistances and a shorter growing season, he said.

“Quinoa is recognized as a true superfood," said Mr. Dutchesen, who grows quinoa in Saskatchewan. “As a pharmacist and multi-generational farmer, I was looking for a crop that was healthful and could provide a value-add from the farm to the consumer.”

The Great Plains Quinoa line includes seeds, whole grain flour, flakes, crisps, custom multigrain blends and mixes.

“We are very excited about the relationship we now have with Ardent Mills,” Mr. Dutchesen said. “We have seen the positive impact their commitment to double organic wheat acres has had on North American farmers and the organic wheat supply and know that level of commitment will have a similar impact in the quinoa market.”

Quinoa is a “pseudo-cereal,” or a food that is cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient pro?le, according to the Whole Grains Council, Boston. The Incas in South America considered quinoa to be the “mother of all grains.”

Mostly grown in the Andes in South America, quinoa is gluten-free and offers all the essential amino acids, according to the Whole Grains Council, which added quinoa in North America is being grown in areas of the Rocky Mountains, from Colorado to Saskatchewan, mostly at elevations of 7,000 to 10,000 feet.