The ranks of the world’s largest wheat milling groups have been selected for the first time,. Four of the top ten companies are located in China. The three U.S. companies making the list are limited to North America, with the exception of ADM’s U.K. subsidiary. Europe’s largest factory is ranked 10th in the world.
- GoodMills Group GmbH
Headquarters: Vienna, Austria. Installed capacity: 8,000 tons
The European Union’s largest milling group has a market share of just 4%. GoodMills Group consists of 25 mills held in seven country-based subsidiaries. Total annual milling capacity is 2.8 million tons, with the 1.2 million tons at the eight sites of GoodMills Germany GmbH accounting for over 40% of the total. Poland and Hungary, each with four mills, are the second and third ranking subsidiaries by capacity at 530,000 and 300,000 tons per year. Austria, where the company is headquartered, has three milling locations. Other countries in the group include Romania (two mills), Bulgaria (one mill) and Czech Republic (two mills). The formation of GoodMills Germany and its acquisition by the Austrian group in 2014 arose directly from harsh penalties for price-fixing imposed on a large number of Germany’s flour milling companies in a verdict first handed down by the competition authorities in 2011 after a long investigation.
- Grain Craft
Headquarters: Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S. Installed capacity: 8,200 tons
Grain Craft resulted from the amalgamation of three leading independent U.S. milling companies: Cereal Food Processors, Milner Milling and Pendleton Flour Mills in 2014, the same year Ardent Mills was formed. The company operates 14 plants in eight states with coast-to-coast market coverage. At the time of the merger, Cereal Food Processors and the Milner/PFM combination were the nation’s fourth and seventh largest wheat millers.
- Jinshahe Noodle Group
Headquarters: Xingtai, Hebei Province, China. Installed capacity: 11,000 tons. Countries: China
Jinshahe was founded in 1996 with a 15-tonne-perday capacity mill. The private company has steadily expanded its wheat flour milling and pasta operations in parallel and at an accelerating rate. As of 2017, the company’s website claimed daily milling capacity at 11,000 tons and noodle capacity at 2,800 tons per day. The company operates two giant mills, with 6,000 and 4,000 tons daily capacity in the cities of Shahe and Nanhe, respectively. Both are in the south of Hebei, the No. 2 province for wheat production after Henan. The Nanhe plant is undergoing a 50% capacity increase to 6,000 tons. Investment already has been made in a 1,500-tons-per-day wheat mill in Alashankou, Xinjiang, province, directly on the border with Kazakhstan. A regular supply of hard wheat and durum from the Central Asian steppes will enhance Jinshahe’s ability to produce western-style pasta products.
- COFCO Group
Headquarters: Beijing, China. Installed capacity: 13,900 tons. Countries: China
As a sprawling, state-owned, “national champion” food conglomerate with 409 billion yuan ($58 billion)in annual revenues, COFCO differs sharply from its flour industry rivals. Domestic wheat milling is just a small part of its total business mix. COFCO’s Hong Kong- listed China Agri Industries Holding Ltd. subsidiary reported 2019 first-half wheat products sales with a value of HK$6.2 billion (U.S.$1.46 billion), ranking it third behind the company’s oilseed crushing (HK$43 billion) and rice milling (HK$9.1 billion) segments. COFCO’s 16 milling sites are in 12 provinces and cities. Average mill size of below 900 tons results in part from COFCO’s early history of rescuing failing government mills. Six of its sites are less than 600 tons per day. In the last year, COFCO acquired a 1,200-tonne-per-day mill in Tianjin to strengthen its position in the Beijing- Tianjin metropolitan region.
- Nisshin Seifun Group
Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan. Installed capacity: 20,000 tons per day. Countries: Japan, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, China
Founded in 1900 as Tatebayashi Flour Milling, Nisshin Seifun Group is Japan’s largest wheat miller and one of its largest food companies. Faced with a declining population and stagnant consumption in its home market, the company increasingly has looked overseas for growth. Its U.S. subsidiary Miller Milling, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, operates six plants including three in California. Three of these locations were acquired from ConAgra and one from Cargill’s Horizon Milling during the formation of Ardent in 2014, enabling Nisshin to become the fourth largest in the U.S. wheat flour market at around 4,000 tons (88,000 cwts) daily capacity. The company recently announced the closure of its 816-tonne-per-day mill in New Prague, Minnesota, U.S. The 11 millingsites in Australia combined with the two plants of Champion Flour Milling in New Zealand make Nisshin the largest milling company in Oceania.
- PT Indofood Sukses Makmur,
Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia. Installed capacity: 20,600 tons per day
Indofood’s Bogasari Flour Mills division boasts the world’s single largest milling site Located in the Port of Jakarta, a number of the site’s 15 milling lines were expanded from 800 to 1,200 tons per day in the last two years to raise total daily capacity to 11,650 tons, equivalent to 3.5 million tons of wheat annually. Bogasari’s second mill in the port of Surabaya, at the eastern end of the densely populated island of Java, also ranks globally among the biggest at 6,150 tons per day. Expansion in Cibitung in West Java near Jakarta will raise capacity there to 2,600 tons. After Egypt, Indonesia is the world’s No. 2 wheat importer at 11 million tons per year in 2019. Since deregulation of the industry in 1998, the number of milling companies has jumped from five to 28, resulting in a decline of Bogasari’s market share to around 50%.
- Wilmar International Limited
Headquarters: Singapore. Installed capacity: 22,000 tonnes per day. Countries: China, Indonesia, Myanmar
Wilmar is one of Asia’s largest agribusiness company with $44.5 billion in annual sales turnover in 2018 of which China accounted for 56%.Under the name Yihai Flour Company, it started building state-of-the-art wheat mills on greenfield sites in China over 12 years ago, around the time the Chinese government capped Wilmar’s market share in soybean crushing. Yihai Flour operates more than 20,000 tons of milling capacity at 18 locations in 12 provinces with a grinding capacity of 6 million tons of wheat per year. Compared to those of Wudeli Group, Yihai’s mills are smaller with a wider geographical distribution from Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces in the northeast to Fujian and Guangdong provinces in the south. Wilmar operates two mills in Indonesia and has included a mill at its port complex in Myanmar.
- Ardent Mills LLC
Headquarters: Denver, Colorado, U.S. Installed capacity: 26,000 tons per day. Countries: United States, Canada, Puerto Rico
Ardent’s 31 mills in 21 states account for about half of the flour sold in the U.S. market. Additionally, the company owns three mills in Canada and one in Puerto Rico. The company was formed in May 2014 as a joint venture that merged the milling operations of Cargill, ConAgra and CHS. The companies hold respectively 44%, 44% and 8% equity shares in Ardent. Before approving the transaction, U.S. anti-trust authorities required the divestiture of a number of operations to limit the new company’s market share to 50%. During the last decade, the process also included the divestiture of flour milling companies in Australia, Argentina and Venezuela, all countries where the world’s largest agribusiness firm was once the major player.
- Archer Daniels Midland Co.
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Installed capacity: 27,000 tons per day. Countries: United States, Canada, United, Kingdom, Caribbean
By market share, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) occupies the second or third position among milling companies in the United States, Canada and U.K., all mature markets where industry consolidation has largely run its course. In 2019 in Mendota, Illinois, U.S., ADM Milling opened the largest greenfield plant ever built in the United States with 30,000 cwts (1,800 tons) daily capacity. Seven mills in Canada process around 4,000 tons daily. Another seven in England and Scotland can grind 800,000 tons of wheat per year. ADM’s 25% ownership of publicly traded Wilmar International means a large indirect stake in wheat milling in China, which is not counted in the above total.
- Wudeli Flour Group
Headquarters: Daming, Hebei Province, China. Installed capacity: 45,000 tons per day
The world’s biggest wheat milling company is situated in the heart of the North China Plain, the major growing zone in the top wheat-producing and consuming country. Wudeli has 15 milling subsidiaries in six contiguous provinces of northern China. Projects are underway to build four greenfield mills of 3,000 to 5,500 tons per day capacity at new locations and to expand capacity at another six sites. All told, the company will add about 35,000 tons of new milling capacity to bring its total to 80,000 tons per day. The family-owned business only started milling wheat in 1989 and built its first 200-tonne-per-day mill in 1996.The company is managed by the two sons of the founder, Dan Hong, born in 1940, who still frequently reviews company financial reports.
Capacity estimates and other information come from companies’ websites, media reports and reliable industry sources. However, the creator of this rank cannot quite believe his accuracy. Find more…