Consumers may feel fallout from flour mill closure

The Pendleton Flour Mill has leased its location in Honolulu Harbor for 50 years, but it was unable to extend its lease beyond the end of this month with its landlord, the state Department of Transportation.

Company president Rick Frederick told KHON2 News that he is “disappointed” that his company was unable to come to a new agreement with state “because the terms of its lease were going to change due to the state’s plan to expand the harbor.” Frederick went on to say that “certain provisions were insurmountable.” A spokesperson for the state said it wanted the company to “take ownership of the grain silos because of liability concerns.”

Edsung Food Service provides flour to local businesses and buys some flour from Pendleton, but most of its finished product comes from other sources including Canada. Company president Chris Yankowski says the closing of the state’s only flour mill has little to do with the price of bread at the market.

“We’re more likely to see a rise in commodities like flour going up as a result of an increase in fuel prices,” said Yankowski. He added that “bakeries as far as folks like Love’s and Orowheat, the guys who carry silos of product, may see a little of an impact.”

Shortly after KHON2 broke the story, Love’s Bakery, a major customer of Pendleton Flour Mills, sent a letter to its customers addressing what it referred to as rumors that it would be without flour for freshly baked goods. In that letter, Love’s told the state’s major markets including Foodland, Times, Safeway and Long’s Drugs that it already started plans to bring in milled flour directly from the mainland and does not foresee a disruption in service.

Love’s says it’s premature to say what the cost will be for the change and how it would impact the price of baked goods. “I can assure the customers of Hawaii that Love’s Bakery has been around since 1851 and we will be around for another 200 years,” said Mike Walters, owner, president and CEO of Love’s Bakery.

KHON2 News also spoke to the state’s No. 2 bakery, Hawaii Star, which is based in Waipahu. The company says it buys most of its milled flour from distributors like Edsung. The maker of the state’s only freshly baked English Muffins also said its customers would not feel any impact from the pending closure of the Pendleton Flour Mill.

The state says it hopes someone else will take over the silos from Pendleton.

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Hawaii Star, maker of Hawaii’s only freshly baked English muffins, will not be affected.
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