CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — Grain Craft on Sept. 10 announced plans to relocate its corporate laboratory to The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan. The new laboratory is expected to open in 2021.
The laboratory will be housed in newly finished space within the innovation center, which is located on the Kansas State University Campus.
Grain Craft said the move is consistent with the company’s commitment to enhancing wheat quality as well as to flour quality and consistency and to “ongoing exploration of innovation activities.”
A project of the Kansas Wheat Commission, the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center (KWIC) is a wheat research facility opened in 2012. The $15 million complex has 15,000 square feet of laboratories, 22,750 square feet of greenhouses and 10,000 square feet of office space. The center is a three-minute walk from the K-State Hal Ross flour mill and is 1 mile from Shellenberger Hall.
KWIC tenants have included a mix of for-profit and not-for-profit entities, including the Kansas Wheat Commission, the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers; Kansas Wheat Alliance, Heartland Plant Innovations/Earth’s Harvest; the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and Dr. Jesse Poland of the Poland Lab for Wheat Genetics and Germplasm Improvement.
Grain Craft’s laboratory will include analytical, milling, rheological and application capabilities and will give Grain Craft access to other facilities in the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, including a complete test kitchen.
“Our new lab takes our commitment to be a resource to our customers to a new level,” said Peter T. Frederick, president of Grain Craft. “It not only provides a space focused on quality and product performance, but it’s also a space in which we can grow, collaborate and learn together.”
Alan Koenig, chief supply chain officer at Grain Craft, said the lab’s work aligns well with the goals of the Kansas Wheat Commission.
“While our entities will remain separate and focused on our individual business needs, this collaboration is a natural fit, and it makes sense to construct a space in which we can succinctly work together to achieve ongoing quality and yield improvement,” he said.
Grain Craft’s bake lab currently is located at the company’s Wichita, Kan., flour mill. All corporate lab activities, including application capabilities, will be shifted to the new location. A full-time Grain Craft lab manager will lead the Manhattan facility.
Grain Craft said it will collaborate with the K-State Department of Grain Science and Industry to “enhance the education and development of milling and bakery science students, who are expected to be future leaders in the industry.”
“Our goal as a leading flour miller is to set the stage for a strong future for our breeders, growers and customer partners,” said Nick Weigel, vice president of quality, regulatory and technical services at Grain Craft. “This investment uniquely positions Grain Craft to develop synergies that support our strategic wheat quality objectives. Through this work, we also hope to advance outcomes that contribute to the betterment of the industry overall.”
Grain Craft has been a supporter of the Kansas Wheat Commission’s wheat quality research efforts and has a longstanding relationship with the commission and with KSU.
“This wheat quality lab will be the missing piece of the puzzle in this extraordinary research facility that farmers have invested in,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. “We appreciate Grain Craft’s vision of working together to create value for farmers. The Kansas Wheat Commission is excited to collaborate with Grain Craft in this venture.”