Farmers welcome new flour mill

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 05:00 07/04/2012

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News that a new flour mill is to be built in Timaru has been welcomed by Federated Farmers' grain and seed section.

The significance of it could not be underestimated and it was extremely positive news for farmers in what had been a very frustrating season, the federation's South Canterbury grain and seed chairman Colin Hurst said.

"It's the best news I have heard in a long time. We absolutely welcome the opportunity to support a local initiative."

Timaru company Grainstor announced on Tuesday plans to build the mill near its site in Washdyke. The new facility will be the first new flour mill built in New Zealand in 25 years.

It will be a showcase with state-of-the-art equipment not seen before in New Zealand, designed to mill soft wheat to a higher standard than some older equipment.

It will produce premium biscuit, baking and bread flours to the specifications of high-end customers. The mill would also give New Zealand bakers the choice to buy locally owned and milled flour.

Mr Hurst has been farming for more than 20 years and has seen mills close in Timaru and Ashburton. A new mill was a really positive initiative for the New Zealand grain industry.

Currently there were two mills in the South Island, both in Christchurch.

The new mill will be in the middle of New Zealand's grain-growing area and would provide big transportation and logistical benefits, he said.

He believed it could also lead to more milling wheat grown in South Canterbury. The area traditionally had limited amounts of this grain type because of issues around transport and South Canterbury's wet weather climate. However, new varieties of milling wheat were less affected by the wetter climate.

The federation's grain chairman, Mid Canterbury farmer Ian Mackenzie said it was exciting news.

Mr Mackenzie grows milling wheat on his Mid Canterbury farm. A locally owned and operated mill run properly would be very exciting for the industry and the economy.

It was a myth that New Zealand grain was not as good as imported Australian grain and a new mill would provide a boost for New Zealand-grown baking products, he said.

"One of the truths about New Zealand grains and New Zealand baking is that it's the best in the world," Mr Mackenzie said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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