The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why are wheat berries more expensive than flour?

prof_stack's picture
prof_stack

Why are wheat berries more expensive than flour?

Wheat berries shouldn't cost more than flour, rignt?  If that isn't right, I'd sure like an education as to why.


Today I stopped in at Cash and Carry in Seattle and checked out the prices on 50# bags of flour.  Bleached, unbleached, whole wheat (no additives either), seminola, etc.  One such bag was marked at $10.95 and the others were between $12 and $18 (although the seminola was higher than that, I think). 


I have bought bags of flour from them and have been satisfied.  But now, armed with Nutrimill and Bosch mixer, I can't find wheat berries for much less than $1 per pound.  Something seems a-miss.


The best local price I have found is through a 10% bag discount for WheatMontana Hard Red or Prairie Gold which would make it about 90 cents per pound.


A local feed store said their wheat was feed grade and not designed for human consumption. 


Any suggestions?  Thanks.

DerekL's picture
DerekL

Lower demand = lower turnover = special handling = higher price.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I don't know about any other locations, but where we live (weatern Canada) I can get 22 pounds (10K) of generic whole wheat flour for as little as $6.29.  That's $0.29 per pound.  I could get winter hard wheat in the LDS cannery, a 25-lb bag of hard winter wheat (non organic) for $5.60; it works out to $0.23 per pounds.  (According to the LDS website US price list it's $5.90 for 25 pounds).  Definitely not more expensive than flour.  Organic berries on the other hand cost a lot more.  If you don't care about organic, try a local LDS cannery and you may have better luck.  Al



LuLu B's picture
LuLu B

King Arthur's organic wheatberries cost $2.65 per pound. 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Apparently the king personally picks each by berry by hand and then fully inspects it prior to polishing it and selling it to the public.


Jeff

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

Quote:
A local feed store said their wheat was feed grade and not designed for human consumption.

I got a different reply from my local feed store.  They said they can't sell it as anything but feed grade because of government regulation but the grain wouldn't hurt you.  What are going to do to it that would be bad for humans but not animals?  Remember you are going to cook the flour too and that will kill anything you need to worry about.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I won't say that "feed grade" is never going to make usable flour, but among the things that make it "feed grade" would be sprout damage (too much amylase makes sticky dough and too-rapid fermentation) and insect infestation.  I'm sure there are other criteria I'm not aware of.  You'd best research it first.


--Dan DiMuzio

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

Wise words Dan.  The feed store I buy my wheat from my family has been doing business with for over 50 years.  We know the owners and of course trust them.  You are right you can't say the same about any other feed store and there could be the problems that you mention.

Kroha's picture
Kroha

http://www.organicwheatproducts.com/?page_id=70


They are a rare grower/seller.  .55 a lb, but you also pay for shipping.  I have to buy nut-free, so I did not do much comparison-shopping price-wise.  Depending on where you are in the country, it might make sense to you.  Shipping rates are reasonable.


Good luck!


Yulika


 

Luke at Small World's picture
Luke at Small World

I'm sure it varies by region, but in Rochester, NY, for organic, food grade wheat berries we pay $10 - $20 per bushel. A bushel is 60#.


One difference between feed grade and food grade is the vomitoxin content: for food grade 1ppm is the limit, for livestock its 5ppm.  This is the toxin that results from fusarium head blight, common in a wet year.

prof_stack's picture
prof_stack

I went to Central Market north of Seattle and got a 25# bag of organic Utah hard red spring berries for 90 cents per pound.  I can also order WheatMontana Prairie Gold or hard red berries in bulk bags for 72 cents per pound.  Those prices reflect a 10% discount for bulk bags. 


The Whole Foods chain of stores wants my WHOLE wallet to buy at their expensive prices.  :)


Tonight my father-in-law commented how good the bread rolls tasted and asked if the flour was from the new flour mill (Nutrimill).