The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

ConAgra as King Arthur?

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

ConAgra as King Arthur?

I posted about buying 50 lbs. of KA Sir Lancelot flour here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18983/they-sold-me-50-lbs-king-arthur-sir-lancelot-higluten-flour

Yesterday, I happened to glance at the bag of flour I bought and saw this on the bar code tag:

Sir Lancelot

CC 06252010 21:32 B2

Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid

id- MFG by ConAgra Foods Omaha, NE 68102

ER

Net WT 50 LB

Bar Code: 0081787ER

Question: What exactly did I buy? I thought I bought a bag of hi-gluten flour from the King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. in Vermont, not from ConAgra Foods in Omaha, NE.

 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

King Arthur has long contracted out the bulk of their milling operations.

In other words, they do not grow or mill most of the products they sell. They buy grains that meet their requirements and milled to their specifications.

They make no secret of this.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

This displeases me somehow.

Should it?

One hopes the contract stipulates a certain level of quality control, especially considering I see the same label with the same ingredients on ConAgra Bread Flour at Costco (for half the price).

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Hope you didn't miss the part about grown and milled to their specifications.

They probably have the strictest quality standards out there. That is also why regardless what the labels say, KA is able to tell you and pledge to precisely what their flours contain(precise protein levels, etc). And yes, that is why some are willing to sometimes pay 2 or 3x the price of some other brands.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

That part you added later.

I missed it only because it wasn't there. 

Damn you and your edits! I object! ;D

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

This has been discussed at length on the Pizza Making forum.

There're many people there voice their displeasure with KA flour, some who believe that their main thing is marketing, and who think the quality is lacking. (I think that they're as much as, dedicated as we are [maybe even more, if that's possible] - love it!)

Now I got a bag of the ConAgra Bread Flour at Costco,and I love it. I also love the price - I live on a fixed income, and am always looking for ways to stretch my meager dollars.

I took photos of some of my creations, but of course, I can't find them right now. Crumb was great, taste really good. First pizza I made w/the flour was incredible - and when I made some for my daughter who was visiting from New Haven, she told me I surpassed all my other pizzas, and that it had to have been the best thick crust pizza she's had. (We finally settled for me not trying to compete with the New Haven icons, and by that I mean when she visits, I make thick crust for her. :D)

So you can see - I have no need to go back to KA prices!

Lynne

 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost
LindyD's picture
LindyD

Tod, there are two things I admire about KAF:  it is excellent flour and it is consistently excellent flour. That's why I use it exclusively.

Well, maybe there's a third:  the bags always open neatly without tearing.  Terrific packaging.

Crider's picture
Crider

They'll sell you a 50 lb bag for $12.10. How much did you pay for your bag of Sir Lancelot?

 

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I paid $26.70 (or 220% of) for KA Sir Lancelot hi-gluten.

I think it was worth it.

Correction: I can't say if it was worth it not, at least not objectively. I've not used the flour you link to, for bagels or anything else.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I fear you missed the point that flour from the Con Agra mill made to KAF's specification is not the same as flour sold under the Con Agra brand.

You'll often find a similar thing where all the soda brands in a region share a single bottling plant. Just because they came off the same manufacturing line still doesn't make Coke=Pepsi.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I didn't miss that point at all. That you felt it pertinent to point out something so completely obvious is something I'm sure we can both overlook.

That we are allowed to buy flour at all, I imagine, is merely a corporate allowance. Let them eat cake and all. It would not surprise me in the least to wake up one day in the not to distant future to hear that, if you want flour, you'll have to grow it yourself (and you'll have to buy seeds from one of a handful of huge agribusiness conglomerates and sign a contract the size of book limiting what you can and can't do with said seeds and the flour they may or may not produce). If you want bread? HA! You can buy it from a supermarket owned, staffed, and merchandised from top to bottom by said agribusiness.

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

That we are allowed to buy flour at all, I imagine, is merely a corporate allowance. Let them eat cake and all. It would not surprise me in the least to wake up one day in the not to distant future to hear that, if you want flour, you'll have to grow it yourself (and you'll have to buy seeds from one of a handful of huge agribusiness conglomerates and sign a contract the size of book limiting what you can and can't do with said seeds and the flour they may or may not produce). If you want bread? HA! You can buy it from a supermarket owned, staffed, and merchandised from top to bottom by said agribusiness.

 

Boy, I really agree with you. In fact, I have to avoid reading too much about it, or I get so frustrated. Good thing, though, we have a slow food movement that's reached the US.

It's also good that people are now realizing that joined together, we are powerful. I'm an older lady who has gone back to college, and a program in Sustainability is really looking more & more attractive to me. Way I figure it, maybe I can play a small part in trying to make this world a bit better for my children and grandchildren - but if I do all I can, I can have a smile on my face when I close my eyes for the last time. (Along with having had a great meal with fantastic bread!! ;D)

 

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

It frustrates me too, and it's not just in food.

I thought I was using an all-natural toothpaste (It was when I first started using it!) only to find that the company was acquired (seized being the preferred term) and the formula changed to include chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate, zinc citrate trihydrate and other things that didn't even exist in my grandmother's day.

Did the marketing change? Nope.

The design of packaging? Nope!

The size of the tube? Yup! It's smaller. Less being more where Food, Inc. is concerned, and the more chemicals the better

It's almost as if you don't have a mass-spectrometer in your kitchen and fail to read about the latest mergers and acquisitions, the bag of X you thought you had in your kitchen, the tube of Y in the bathroom, is suddenly something completely different, even if the packaging is the same.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== It would not surprise me in the least to wake up one day in the not to distant future to hear that, if you want flour, you'll have to grow it yourself (and you'll have to buy seeds from one of a handful of huge agribusiness conglomerates and sign a contract the size of book limiting what you can and can't do with said seeds and the flour they may or may not produce). ===

That's sadly very close to the case today in the United States; there are several crops that it is almost impossible to grow, even from heirloom seed, that won't get cross-contaminated by patented genetically-engineered versions being grown somewhere in your county.  Which will then earn you a lawsuit from the engineered seed producer when you try to sell your crop.

sPh

I will note however that it is not clear to most people in the US how far the concept of "contract manufacturing to spec" has taken over our entire consumer goods manufacturing and retail world.  I happen to know that there is one manufactuer of men's button-down oxford shirts that makes upwards of 90% of all such shirts sold on the face of the earth regardless of brand.  But I doubt many consumers who haven't worked in the fashion industry know that whether they go to Expensive Boutique or the Dollar Store the  shirt they are buying is made in the same factory (often, but not always, to the different specs of course).

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I was deeply disappointed to find that, at least here in our metro area, almost all of the flour sold by Costco is not only bleached but bromated.  Shocking that the use of bromate is still allowed at all in the US, and deeply disappointing that an organization that does seem to have at least minimal concern for quality (Costco) specs bromated flours.

sPh

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

And what are the odds that unbromated and unbleached King Arthur flour is produced at the same facilities (or even on the same machinery) that produces the bromated and bleached bags for sale at Costco?

That's really the crux of my problem: I've been buying a brand of flour all these years thinking it was apart from mass-manufacture only to find that it's produced by the same company that produces bromated and bleached flours in mass quantity.

It's like I'm being asked to trust that, somewhere deep inside ConAgra, King Arthur has a pristine manufacturing operation that's apart from ConArga's other milling operations.

What are the odds its more like this: "This flour has processed on machinery that may have been used to process bromated and bleached flour."

I'm essentially being told that I should trust that it isn't.

Trust?

ConAgra?

 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Instead of publicly dissing King Arthur Flour (which is an American company in existence for 220 years and is owned and operated by its employees),  or General Mills, ConAgra, or any other company for that matter, there's a simple solution:

Don't buy their products.

We all have free choice about the products we purchase and as to flour,  there are many good organic mills around which sell to the public.  Heartland Mill is one; another is even owned and operated by a TFL member: Country Creations

Do your homework, find a mill you approve of and, as the old saying goes, put your money where your mouth is. 

Edited to add the following link for those questioning the integrity of KAF and its products:  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/about/goodworks.html

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Yes, this is what's know as burying your head in the sand.

Oh, as children do sometimes, put fingers in their ears and say la, la, la, la, la, la, la.

Both, of course, solve everything but the problem at hand.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

One of the truly unique aspects of The Fresh Loaf is the ongoing civility, friendliness, and helpful nature of the vast majority of the TFL members.  It would be a sad sad day were that to change for the worse.

Jeff

Rodger's picture
Rodger

The term "trust," which has been tossed around in this discussion, is freighted with shifting cargo.  Are you entrusting your confidence in a brand to produce a reliable, high-quality product?  Or are you trusting it to represent a moral code? 

When I use King Arthur AP, I am confident that it will behave in a consistently proven way, and I trust that if I do my part it will produce magnificent bread.

Occasionally I use small-mill flour (Weisenberger, for one), but King Arthur is widely available and, uh, trustworthy.

By the way, primed by this discussion, I examined the ConAgra bag in Costco yesterday.  It is indeed bleached and bromated, not the same as KA.

Rodger

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi

There are a great many pertinent and interesting comments in this thread; thank you to all those who contributed, especially those seeking to truly enlighten the debate on food policy.

I am UK based, so do not have direct experience of using King Arthur flour.   However, I think mr frost's opening comment holds good, and is backed up with a direct contribution from a KA employee.   This company makes no secrets of how it goes about its business.   My perspective suggests the company takes a great deal of pride in this.   They also charge a lot more for their flour than a lot of suppliers!

Why?   Simple: you really do get what you pay for!   I fully agree with much of the questioning going on here about ethically sound flour supply.   Trouble is, that King Arthur are probably the epitimy of the wrong company to single out.   Regarding Quality Assurance, this firm's products probably meet the standards closer than most other flour suppliers in the US.   That's my guess, but I'll stick my neck out on that.

Respect to all

Andy

steelchef's picture
steelchef

 

So, KAF sells their diastatic malt powder for $ 5.95 lb.

 

Here is what I paid!

 -----Original Message-----
From: Amazon.com [mailto:order-update@amazon.com]
Sent: September-10-10 9:02 AM
To: cobatoma@telus.net
Subject: Your Amazon.com order of "Diastatic Malt Powder, 1 lb." has shipped!

 

 

Dear Colin,

 

Barry Farm Foods shipped the following item(s) in your order

103-6600224-6761007, placed on September 08, 2010.

 

Delivery Estimate: October 06, 2010

 

This shipment was sent to:

 

Left blank for personal reasons

 

This shipment will be delivered by USPS.

 

You have been charged for the following items shipped today:

 

Diastatic Malt Powder, 1 lb.

Sold by: Barry Farm Foods

Condition: new

Quantity: 5

$2.09 each

Item subtotal: $10.45

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Item Subtotal                   :  $10.45

Shipping & Handling             :  $24.49

 

Total                           :  $34.94

 

Paid by Visa:  $34.94

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

No more changes can be made to this order. If you have questions about

this order, including the seller's refund policy, you can visit

http://www.amazon.com/wheres-my-stuff.

 

LEAVE FEEDBACK ON THIS ORDER

Sellers appreciate feedback from buyers on their shopping experience. Once

your order is complete, please leave feedback for Barry Farm Foods on this

order by going to http://www.amazon.com/feedback.

 

Thanks for shopping at Amazon.com.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Please note: Do not reply to this message, this e-mail address does not

accept incoming e-mail.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You paid $25 to ship $10 worth of merchandise. 

I paid six bucks for a pound of DMP two years ago - still have half in my freezer and the shipping was free (KAF had one of their sales going on then).

How will you use five pounds of DMP?