TOKYO, JAPAN — NIPPN Corp., which operates one of Japan’s largest flour milling businesses, announced on May 15 that it is entering the US milling market for the first time with a $25 million investment in Utah Flour Milling, LLC.
Established in February by Denver, Colorado, US-based PHM Brands LLC, Utah Flour Milling will begin construction of the mill this summer at a yet-to-be-announced location, and it is expected to be completed in the fall of 2024, according to NIPPN, which also noted the plant’s daily flour production capacity will be 7,500 cwts.
NIPPN said the mill will feature leading-edge technology, including patented pathogen-reduction biotechnology from Energis Solutions, a subsidiary of PHM Brands.
NIPPN said it will be committed to realizing its long-term vision of “business expansion in North America and business development, including inorganic growth strategy” through this investment, enhancing the Group’s overall strength as a flour miller through direct engagement in the US flour milling business.
The investment in Utah Flour Milling will accelerate the speed of business growth in the United States by leveraging synergies among the Group’s existing companies — NIPPN California Inc., a California-based premix sales company, and Pasta Montana, LLC, a Montana-based pasta production and sales company, NIPPN said.
NIPPN is one of the “big four” flour millers in Japan, along with Nisshin, Showa Sangyo and Nitto Fuji, which combine for over 75% of the country’s flour milling market share. In recent years, NIPPN consistently has garnered between 23% and 24% of the flour milling market share in Japan and it continues to upgrade its seven flour mills.
Formerly known as Nippon Flour Mills Co. Ltd., the company changed its name to NIPPN in 2021.
In an interview with World Grain in January 2021, Toshiya Maezuru, president and chief operating officer of NIPPN, explained, “We are aiming to accelerate the diversification of our business — which started in flour milling and has expanded to food, ready-made meals, and health care — and the expansion of our business in growth areas by sending the symbolic message with the company name change.”
He said that although flour milling has remained a significant part of the NIPPN portfolio, accounting for 31% of the company’s sales in the most recent fiscal year, it “no longer fully describes the company or the group.”
NIPPN is Japan’s second largest flour miller behind Nisshin Seifun, which has a long history in North American flour milling, having acquired Rogers Foods in Canada in 1989 and Miller Milling Co. in the United States in 2012.
For PHM, the soon-to-be-built mill in Utah is part its push to expand its flour milling footprint in the United States.
In a recent interview with Milling & Baking News, sister publication of World Grain, Gina Steffens, new PHM chief executive officer, said: “We have recently been more vocal that we are returning our focus to our core, which is flour milling. And, while our family of agricultural and biotechnology-based companies complement each other, we will be strategically restructuring the enterprise to return priority to the core and focus on expansion in that space.”
PHM said this heightened focus on milling will translate into two or three “major growth projects in 2023 and 2024,” While the projects were not detailed, the company said it is positioning PHM as a nationwide supplier of low micro and RTE mixes and flours.
“We are expanding through focusing on our core business as flour millers and already have significant projects underway in multiple locations,” Steffens said.
PHM currently has overall daily milling capacity of 7,500 cwts split between mills in Farmington, New Mexico, US (2,500 cwts), and Dawn, Texas, US (5,000 cwts), according to Sosland Publishing Co.’s 2023 Grain & Milling Annual. The company’s milling capacity will double once the Utah mill comes online.