REARDAN, Wash. — A flour company primarily based in the South is launching a line of premium flours using wheat produced in the Pacific Northwest.
White Lily, owned by the J.M. Smucker Company, debuted its line of flours at an event for food bloggers and travel media at the home of Reardan, Wash., farmer Fred Fleming, co-founder of Shepherd’s Grain.
“We love the passion they have for the land, for the farming, and thought it was a good quality product to put into our premium flours,” said White Lily spokesperson Andrea Lindsley. “They were a perfect fit.”
Lindsley said the company is meeting with retailers through August to gauge interest. The goal is to be nationwide, she said. Target has committed at least 475 stores.
The flours use wheat from Shepherd’s Grain and red or white wine grape seeds from WholeVine Vineyards in Northern California.
Shepherd’s Grain, LLC, founded in 2002 by Fleming and farmer Karl Kupers, is a general partnership of roughly 34 wheat farmer families from Washington, Idaho and Oregon focusing on direct seeding, no-till farming. Twenty-one of the 34 growers will be producing the hard red winter wheat White Lily will use, said Mike Moran, general manager for Shepherd’s Grain. The flour is being milled in Spokane.
Shepherd’s Grain expects to increase the bushels it grows by 10 to 12 percent as a result of the partnership, Moran said. This year, the company is contracting 814,000 bushels, Moran said. A 10 to 12 percent increase would boost that total by 81,400 bushels or 98,000 bushels.
Fleming said Smucker and White Lily are working to develop natural, sustainable and local products. They were drawn by Shepherd’s Grain’s certification as a non-GMO wheat flour. Shepherd’s Grain is one, and maybe the only, brand of flour certified as non-GMO in the marketplace, Fleming said, even though there is no GMO wheat currently in the commercial marketplace.
“It’s all about traceability, knowing where your food comes from and having a face behind the food,” Fleming said. “We’re marketing now to the nation as a traceable, local company. It gives us a national presence.”
The flour bags include a code. By entering the code on White Lily’s website, customers will be able to see one of the farmers who contributed the wheat in that particular bag of flour.
Shepherd’s Grain hopes to reconnect customers with the farmers who provide their food, Moran said.
“Partnering with White Lily is allowing us to reach a much broader audience than we reach right now,” he said. “They’re taking us nationally, and also down to a consumer level, where primarily our interaction right now is business-to-business.”