For most members of the baking industry, flour does not fall in the ingredient category but is classified as a commodity. Milling companies are seen as milling companies, not suppliers. When wholesale bakeries come to Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, MA, and find a functioning innovation center much like those found at ingredient suppliers, they tend to be surprised.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, ‘Wow, I’ve never known a flour miller to be able to do anything like this or be innovative or create solutions,’” said Colleen Zammer, director of product marketing, Bay State Milling. “It’s taken us to a whole new level from flour milling company to ingredient supplier.”

The company decided to make this jump with an innovation center to keep up with the market. During Bay State Milling’s 113-year-long existence, much of the focus has been on white flour, but as the market moves more toward whole grains and grains other than wheat, the executive team decided to get ahead of the curve to help customers adapt to new trends.

“We expanded our capabilities from having a bake lab in the back of a flour mill to having a full lab with capabilities of producing multiple types of products and customizing and following the makeup process that our customers use in their facilities,” said Susan Kay, manager of product application. “We’re not just doing quality checks here.”