MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA, US — Although the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many grain and milling companies over the past year and a half, it hasn’t halted all activity. Case in point: Minot Milling.

Founded in 1998 by Philadelphia Macaroni Co. (PMC), Minot Milling not only has been able to operate under pandemic restrictions, the mill management team and employees also completed two major capital projects.

“The first project was renovation of one of our mills, which now has the flexibility to swing between durum and spring wheat flour,” Tim Dodd, president of Minot Milling, noted in an Aug. 24 blog posting. “This gives Minot Milling additional durum capacity to satisfy higher demand due to PMC’s acquisition of Zerega. Besides creating swing flexibility, the new mill was retrofitted with a debranner, which promotes higher quality flour by removing impurities that may be present on the outer bran coat.”

 The acquisition that Dodd referred to took place last year when PMC acquired A. Zerega’s Sons, a manufacturer of dry pasta for the foodservice, industrial ingredient and retail channels. The transaction included Zerega’s manufacturing and distribution facilities located in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, US, and Lee’s Summit, Missouri, US, and created the largest privately-owned pasta manufacturer in the United States.

Dodd said the second project Minot Milling has completed was the installation of an additional grain receiving system, with a new automated truck scale.

“These improvements double the grain elevator’s unloading capacity and promote better grower relations by minimizing unloading time,” he said.

“As we move into a new crop year, the industry is already feeling the effects of the severe drought conditions in the Northern Plains — where a majority of the durum wheat is grown,” Dodd explained. “As predicted, total 2021 durum production in both the US and Canada is estimated to be less than 160 million bushels vs 308 million bushels last year. No question, record low durum production along with low carryover inventories will make supply tight and values high. And with our recent facility improvements, we have hit the ground running to face this industry challenge.”

Following the capital projects, Minot Milling now has the ability to swing between spring and durum flour at 3,000 cwts either way at one mill, while the other flour mill remains the same at 3,000 cwts, hard red spring wheat only. The company’s dedicated durum mill has capacity of 10,000 cwts. Minot's total capacity is 16,000 cwts for all three mills.