DYERSVILLE, IOWA — Ancient Brands Milling has announced plans to invest $26.5 million to relocate and expand its puffed grains capacity in Dyersville. Ancient Brands is a manufacturer of organic and non-GMO puffed grains for use in cereal, granola, energy bars and plant-based alternatives.

As part of the investment, Ancient Brands plans to build a new 92,000-square-foot plant in Dyersville to replace the facility it acquired in the city from The Andersons, Inc. back in September 2020. The Andersons had acquired the facility in 2018 as part of its acquisition of Nu-World Foods from Tella Atlantic Holdings.

“Current expansion is really driven by extremely high demand for what we are currently doing, which is gluten-free, allergen-free, organic and non-GMO puffed grains,” said Patrick Hemminger, president of Ancient Brands. “And so we are at or near capacity on capacity-constricted equipment. The equipment we have now does not provide the ability for us to upgrade or to increase capacity utilization. So that really caused us to take a strong look at ways we could increase that capacity and the availability of our high-quality ingredients and capabilities, and we really took a strong look at that at the end of Q4 of 2021.”

Mr. Hemminger said current capacity is about 2.5 million lbs of puffed grains per year, a total that will ramp up significantly with the expansion.

“We’re bringing in two new high-volume lines from our equipment partner in Europe,” he explained. “So we will be bringing in two separate lines and decommissioning our current line… By bringing in these two lines, our gluten-free, allergen-free capacity will increase to roughly 10 million lbs per year. And then we are adding the ability to puff gluten-based, or wheat-based grains, as well, and that capacity is going to be upwards of 20 million lbs per year.

“So the growth is two-fold. We’ll be increasing overall capacity, but also increasing our portfolio to include puffed wheats.”

Mr. Hemminger said that while the company has been offering puffed wheats since its launch in January 2016, it has been importing a finished good from other manufacturing partners that utilize the same type of equipment in Europe.

“There is a lot of demand for these puffed wheats, puffed barley, puffed rye, puffed Kamut wheat, and we have been importing that over the past six years, but now it is time to put a stake in the ground and begin processing those gluten-based grains as well right here in the Midwest,” he said.

Mr. Hemminger said Ancient Brands’ current clientele and partners enjoy the current facility and its focus on gluten-free and top-nine-allergen-free production, but he’s excited about what the new facility has to offer, including a mezzanine that gives the new location 104,000-square-feet of space.

“We purposely designed that as a facility inside of a facility,” he said. “We are completely segregating the one processing bay from the other processing bay, and that is all the way through the warehouse. One of those processing bays is going to be gluten-free, top-nine-allergen-free with separate dock doors, separate air handling systems. So we’re taking a really strong, purposely designed stance to protect the integrity of those gluten-free, top-nine-allergen-free attributes. And then a totally separate bay for any of the grains that are puffed based.

“We’re staying very conscious of the attributes that our current client partners enjoy while being able to structurally offer the new portfolio of puffed gluten-based grains,” he said.

Mr. Hemminger said the design of the project is in progress and the company hopes to move dirt in June. Equipment is expected to arrive in the fourth quarter with setup taking place shortly after, which puts the company on pace for startup in the late first quarter or early second quarter of 2023, he said. He added that Ancient Brands initially plans to run the current facility in parallel with the new facility to ensure a smooth transition of operations.

“We are uniquely excited about the progress up to this point,” he said.