Denver flour company Ardent Mills is acquiring Pullman, Wash.-based chickpea processing company Hinrichs Trading Co.

Hinrichs operates at five locations in Washington and Montana. The family-owned business has more than 30 years of chickpea experience, and was involved in production of the crop when it was first introduced in the U.S.

"We continue to see significant growth in the plant-based food and beverage industry, and chickpeas are playing an increasingly important role," Phil Hinrichs, CEO and president of the Hinrichs Trading Co., told the Capital Press. "The new generations are thinking about being more sustainable and more plant-based, and chickpeas fit those new priorities like a glove."

The family has lived in the area for five generations — the sixth generation was just born, Hinrichs said.

"We have always been processing some sort of commodity in each generation," he said.

Ardent Mills will purchase all of the business operations of Hinrichs, including chickpea sourcing, cleaning and packing.

"Ardent Mills and Hinrichs Trading Co. both take a people-first approach and share a strong cultural alignment and similar values," Shrene White, general manager of The Annex by Ardent Mills, told the Capital Press. "We also share a similar vision for growth and innovation. This was a huge draw for us on top of Hinrichs’ extensive chickpea sourcing knowledge and extremely close grower connections."

The Annex by Ardent Mills develops specialty grains and plant-based ingredients, including quinoa, ancient and heirloom grains, gluten-free, organic grains and flours, chickpeas and heirloom wheat.

Both companies declined to reveal the price of the purchase.

The move comes as part of Ardent Mills’ strategic growth plan to further invest in specialty ingredient capabilities and diversify its portfolio, building on its existing wheat flour business, according to a press release. The parties expect the deal to close in April.

Farmers will have access to new resources, opportunities and markets, and the support of a national leader, Hinrichs said.

"One of the reasons we’re so excited to partner with Ardent Mills is that they already work with family farms across North America and offer them the support they need to grow," Hinrichs said.

Ardent Mills' operations and services include  more than 35 flour mills, a specialty bakery, two mix facilities, a gluten-free facility and The Annex by Ardent Mills.

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