Flour Millers Toolkit for Fortification
While representatives of the public, private, and civic sectors all have important roles in fortification, millers carry out the program’s requirements daily. Millers secure materials, equip facilities with proper machinery, and maintain equipment. Millers usually cover the costs of these capital investments, and very often they pay the on-going expense of purchasing the vitamins and minerals to add to grains.
Quality control is the responsibility of both millers and external food safety authorities, such as government representatives. See “Monitoring for Quality and Impact” for guidance on quality control.
A Flour Millers Toolkit offers basic information for flour fortification. Highlights are below. Links to the complete Toolkit as Power Point slides are in the box at right.
- Fortifying flour with vitamins and minerals will not improve flour made with poor quality grains. If low quality grains are used, consumers could blame the inferior flour on the fortification and reject all fortified products.
- The most common way to fortify flour is using a micro feeder. This adds premix to flour at pre-determined rates in the process of flour production.
- Three types of feeders are available: screw, revolving disk and drum or roller. Screw feeders are the most common. They dispense a set volume of premix at a constant rate. The size of the screw determines the feed rate capacity, and this allows a wide range of delivery rates.
- Mills generally need one feeder per type of flour or meal line to be fortified. The size and number of feeders needed depends on the amount of flour produced per hour.
- Magnets are used in flour production to remove unwanted substances like staples or other metal pieces. Most iron compounds used in fortification (ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, and sodium iron EDTA) are not attracted to magnets. Elemental iron, which is sometimes used for fortification, may be attracted to the magnets, but only rare magnets are strong enough to pull this iron from flour.
The millers’ costs are frequently passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices, but with wheat flour, the additional cost to consumers is as little as 0.01 per five kilograms of flour.
Capital costs to begin fortification vary widely based on the type of equipment needed. Assuming the rated capacity of the flour mill is greater than 50 metric tons of wheat ground per 24-hour period, a volumetric manual operation feeder can cost from US $3,000 to $10,000. For the same mill, an automatic feeder with linked microprocessor control can cost from US $15,000 to $35,000.
Some large mills may already have all the equipment needed to begin fortification. We recommend that millers who do not have the necessary equipment request feeder price quotations from more than two suppliers to ensure competitive prices.
Some countries that pass mandates to fortify flour will provide funding for initial expenses. Millers also sometimes receive grants from non-governmental organizations for start-up costs.
The recurring costs of buying premix that includes iron, folic acid, and other B vitamins is usually less than US$3 per metric ton of flour. For mills that produce thousands of tons of flour daily, buying premix can be a considerable expenditure. It is a minimal expense, however, compared to the cost of buying wheat.
In most countries flour millers incur the costs of buying premix and pass these costs to customers. Depending on the vitamins and minerals used, the price increase for bakers is as little as US$ 0.10 per 50 kilograms of flour, and for consumers it is as little as US$ 0.10 per loaf of bread or 0.01 per five kilograms of flour. However, in some countries such as Jordan, Iran, and Iraq, the governments pay for the premix to be added to flour as an investment in the health of their populations.
In countries where premix has to be imported, we recommend that governments eliminate the value added tax, tariffs or duties on premix. This relieves some of the financial expectations of flour millers. The government’s reduced income from these taxes will most likely be offset by a reduction in the government’s health care expenditures as the population’s health improves and the prevalence of neural tube birth defects declines.
Download the Flour Millers Toolkit
The ongoing costs to fortify with iron, folic acid and other B vitamins is less than US$3 per metric ton of wheat flour. A metric ton of wheat flour is about 2200 pounds or 1000 kilograms as pictured here.