The spend is intended to improve all operational aspects of the UK plant, from intake and warehousing capabilities to logistics and distribution, according to Richardson. The Bedford site is the headquarters of Richardson Milling UK, which was formerly European Oat Millers and changed its name when it was acquired by Richardson International in 2017.
Richardson Milling UK claims to be the second largest oat miller in Europe.
A full overhaul of the facility's footprint would result in greater operational efficiencies, modernisation, and enhanced storage capacity. "We're bringing warehousing back on site," Bedford plant director Carl Smith told Food Manufacture.
"We have a small amount on site at the minute, a leased site about five, six miles away and something about 30 miles away, which we use as and when we need to."
Smith, who has worked for the business since 2012, having previously worked for Bokomo Foods (now Pioneer Foods UK) in factory manager roles said the investment would not lead to more jobs. "At this moment in time, it will just help to improve the efficiencies in the site, so we'll be able to do more volume with current labour. Whether that leads to more in the future, I'm not in a position to say."
When completed, the Bedford mill will boast a high-speed receiving system, providing a fast and effective means for inbound oats delivery.
Increase storage capacity
Extensive plant modernisation would significantly increase storage capacity and ensure efficiencies in production and processing capabilities, Richardson claimed.
In addition, the site will include a new expanded warehouse to allow for improved transportation and logistical functions. Construction will begin later this spring with no anticipated disruption to current operations and is expected to be completed in 2025.
The multi-phase project would allow the plant to rapidly meet an ever-growing demand for oats and oat-based products, said Benoit Soucy, vice-president, milling operations, Richardson International. “The global oats segment is thriving as shifting consumer behaviours drive market growth.
“A significant investment such as this will enable us to fulfil the incremental demand of our customers as we continue to efficiently meet current requirements and anticipate their evolving needs.”
Quality plant-based products
Now, more than ever, consumers worldwide looked to quality plant-based products when making purchasing decisions, said Soucy. Located in the heart of the UK’s key growing region, the Bedford mill occupies a geographic position integral to meeting the needs of informed consumers, both domestically and abroad.
Smith said: “The growth demand for our oat products has consistently increased through the years and we are committed to taking the business to a higher level.” He told Food Manufacture the growth in demand for oats was coming from all categories. "The demand for oats has just grown exponentially this year."
Smith added that the oat mill had secured new supply contracts around the world and an increase in its existing customer base over the past year, with a lot dedicated to supplying other manufacturers. He said roughly 35% of the plant's output was focused on export sales.
'Interest in oat products continues to grow'
David Jordan, board director, Richardson Milling UK added: “As a world class oat milling operation, we are incredibly excited by our new plans. Consumer interest in healthy oat products continues to grow and we see this as a great opportunity to supply existing and new customers with quality oat products.
“The outlook is positive for all industry participants – from the farming community and our facility staff to our suppliers and valued customers.”
Richardson Milling UK processes toasted wheat, barley, corn, rice, bran, multigrain and ancient grains as well as oats, has extrusion capability and can coat and blend ingredients.
Canada's largest agribusiness
Richardson International Limited is Canada’s largest agribusiness and is recognised as a global leader in agriculture and food processing, employing 2,900 people across Canada, the US and UK.
The company is a worldwide handler and merchandiser of all major Canadian grown grains and oilseeds and a vertically-integrated processor and manufacturer of oats and canola-based products.
Over the past two decades, Richardson has become a significant player in the global food business, producing a wide variety of food products and ingredients for retail, foodservice, and industrial markets.