The investment will be made within two years and will create 20 more roles within the specialist flour milling and bakery outfit’s 70-strong workforce, Marriage told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“There’s a whole range of other investments we’re looking at,” said Marriage. “We’re investing to strengthen our cereal processing abilities and further processing abilities, rather than just being able to mill.”
Doves Farm Foods specialises in gluten-free (GF) grains and has done so since it was founded by Marriage and his wife Clare in 1978. The company has a turnover of £15M and produces 200 different products, including 50 different flours.
The investment in the company’s processing and further processing capabilities reflects an increase in demand from consumers for ancient grains such as spelt, chia and quinoa, said Marriage.
Supermarkets had already started to respond to the rise in consumer demand, he added. “Tesco Extra has started to stock our GF teff, buckwheat, millet, maize tapioca, brown rice and chickpea,” he said.
More than £5M was also invested to build three new flour mills at the Berkshire-based business two years ago to improve capacity, he added.
“We have built brand new GF-dedicated mills and at the moment we are producing 12,000t from them each year, but we could double capacity quite easily,” claimed Marriage.
Cost of £200,000
There are also two bakeries at the site, which were built at a cost of £200,000 four years ago and produce 60,000 GF and allergen-free cereal bars a day.
“We’re also about to launch a new range of cereal bars in September,” he added.
Meanwhile, Marriage believes the interest in GF and ancient grains will increase in the coming years as more consumers learn how different foods affect them.
The rise in consumers avoiding gluten has already paid dividends, with manufacturers and retailers showing increasing interest in working with grains other than wheat.
“I think, as more and more people get into ancient and GF grains, the take-up of them in supermarkets will get faster and faster and snowball overnight,” predicted Marriage.
“We were the first company to mill spelt in 1988 and it’s everywhere now, even on the likes of Great British Bake Off. So once people get to know the other grains, I think the same will happen for them.”
GF diets are usually consumed by coeliac sufferers, who cannot consume gluten. Recent figures from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence claimed the number of coeliac sufferers had increased by 24% since 1990.
Marriages top five ancient grains