- Unconventional Ag
Sioux Falls Flax Plant Branching Out
Sioux Falls-based grain processing company, Glanbia Nutritionals is expanding its product line and is campaigning to convince farmers in the U.S. Midwest to grow alternative grains. Traditionally, the focus of the company centered on flax products, but since moving to Sioux Falls, the company has expanded production to include alternative grains and seeds including chia and quinoa.
The additional products are Glanbia’s answer to consumer demand and consumption trends as vegan consumers seek out alternative grain-sourced protein in value-added health foods in place of traditional soy proteins, or animal-sourced dairy proteins. Adding to their consumer appeal, quinoa is also gluten-free, and chia seeds are high in B vitamins, calcium, and minerals. The trend is even beginning to take hold in other sectors as well, with the Sioux Falls plant producing a flax and chia seed blend targeted for pet food.
Quinoa and chia are primarily grown in South America, however farmers in the southern U.S. are beginning to try their hand at production. Flaxseed is mostly grown in the U.S. Midwest, but scale of production is low. In 2013, South Dakota produced only 7,000 acres, leaving Glanbia to ship in flax from North Dakota and Canada. But now that the Sioux Falls plant is running smoothly, the company hopes that region’s farmers can be convinced to diversify, and to begin to build the company a domestic supply of alternative grains.
Glanbia is an international company headquartered in Ireland, and the Sioux Falls plant is part of the group’s Next Generation Grains technology group under the Glanbia Nutritional division headquartered in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Although the group has had difficulty recruiting and maintaining a stable workforce at its Manitoba site, the Sioux Falls plant has been performing smoothly since it began operation in November 2013 – long before its official ribbon cutting ceremony. Because of how well the first year of operation has proceeded, the group is considering the Sioux Falls plant, and the state of South Dakota for future expansion projects.