ELK RIVER, MINN. — Hayden Flour Mills might not have the marketing power of larger milling companies.
“I mill in one year what Ardent mills in two hours,” said Jeff Zimmerman, co-owner of Hayden Flour Mills, Queen Creek, Ariz.
Hayden Flour Mills relies heavily on social media and e-commerce to promote its assortment of flours and pancake mixes made from ancient grains.
“You create these super fans,” Mr. Zimmerman said at the Northern Crops Institute’s first annual ancient grains conference held July 20 at the Oliver Kelley Farm outside Elk River. “You make them part of the club. If you have 100 people passionate about your product, that’s enough to pay the bills. Now it’s 200. Now it’s 300. Focus on that rather than the mass market.”
Hayden Flour Mills has garnered 600 super fans through its internet tools and is adding 50 or 60 a month.
“Those are the loyal following that will buy that einkorn from you, that will buy that emmer,” Mr. Zimmerman said.
Mr. Zimmerman, who grew up on a farm in North Dakota, and his daughter, Emma Zimmerman, are co-owners of Hayden Flour Mills. The company uses stone milling, saying it preserves the natural oils and ingredients of the grain to create a more flavorful, nutrient-dense grain.
Besides consumers on the internet, Mr. Zimmerman said he asks questions at the retail level, too. Product from Hayden Flour Mills comes in boxes because the workers stocking the retail shelves told him they “hate” pouches. Consumers like an item they can place in a commuter bag and jump on the subway, Mr. Zimmerman added.
Keeping product under $10 is a goal.“What we’ve learned in marketing is, if you keep it under $10, people don’t think,” Mr. Zimmerman said.