Flour power worth billions

Cally DupeCountryman
Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi plant in Japan.
Camera IconNisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi plant in Japan. Credit: Sohei Yoshida

Eight billion dollars of revenue a year, 130,700 tonnes of storage capacity, a global network of flour mills and an almost 100-year history.

Farmers on this year’s CBH Grower Study Tour were stunned by the clout behind one of the flour mills visited on the seventh day of this year’s tour.

CBH director and Dalwallinu farmer Brian McAlpine and Tsurumi Mill general manager Seiichiro Takahashi.
Camera IconCBH director and Dalwallinu farmer Brian McAlpine and Tsurumi Mill general manager Seiichiro Takahashi. Credit: Countryman, Cally Dupe

The group toured Tsurumi Mill, which is located in Japan’s eighth most populated city Kawasaki, on Honshu Island.

The mill is owned by the biggest flour miller in Japan — Nisshin Seifun Group.

Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi plant in Japan.
Camera IconNisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi plant in Japan. Credit: Sohei Yoshida

With a network of nine mills in Japan, Nisshin holds 40 per cent of the flour milling market share in Japan and produces 250 types of flour for industrial and household use.

The 2,150 tonnes of flour produced at Tsurumi Mill each day is just a portion of Nisshin’s 8000 tonnes of flour produced each day across its nine plants.

With seven milling units, the Tsurumi Mill produces flour for bread, cakes, and noodles, as well as Durum semolina — operating 20 hours a day.

Nisshin also owns a network of international mills, including Rogers Foods in Canada, Millers Milling in the US and Champion Flour in New Zealand.

In February, the company also bought Australian flour and baked goods manufacturer Allied Pinnacle from private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners.

Products on show Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi Mill in Japan.
Camera IconProducts on show Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

The purchase forms part of Nisshin’s international expansion strategy, which involves buying companies with high-growth potential.

About 16 per cent of all noodle wheat used at Nisshin’s Tsurumi Mill comes from Australia, and a fair portion of that is supplied by CBH.

However, the company buys 50 per cent of its grain from the US, 25 per cent from Canada, and about 10 per cent from local Japanese farmers.

Tsurumi Mill general manager Seiichiro Takahashi told growers the company had a “very close” relationship with CBH.

Katanning farmer Matt Kerin at Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi Mill in Japan.
Camera IconKatanning farmer Matt Kerin at Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

He said Nisshin predominantly used Australian wheat for udon noodles, and it took two weeks for Australian grain to arrive.

“We are very satisfied with Australian wheat for its consistent high quality,” Mr Takahashi said.

“We choose ASWN because every year it blends and uses various type of wheat to make the flour.

“We receive it and analyse it and decide if we want to buy it or not.”

Dale farmer Vanessa Hewitt and CBH improvement specialist Jody McMiles at Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi Mill in Japan.
Camera IconDale farmer Vanessa Hewitt and CBH improvement specialist Jody McMiles at Nisshin Flour Milling's Tsurumi Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

During a Q&A session with WA farmers, Mr Takahashi said it was “difficult” to answer why only 16 per cent of its purchased wheat came from Australia.

“This is a very good, but difficult question... Australian wheat is very good for making noodles,” he said.

“If you can provide a better quality but a cheaper price... maybe we would (buy more).”

The company uses a variety of different wheats, blending them together to create different products.

Grain growers on the tour were particularly impressed with the mill’s automated rack warehouse, which could store more than 500,000 bags of flour.

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