Issue 64
Prairie Grains

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Prairie Grains is the official publication of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, Montana Grain Growers Association and South Dakota Wheat, Inc.

Copyright Prairie Grains Magazine
Nov/Dec  2004

A Look at the ND Pasta Industry

About two thirds of the nation’s durum wheat is produced in North Dakota, and according to the North Dakota Wheat Commission, five companies currently make pasta in North Dakota at plants in six locations:

•  Conte Luna Foods, Grand Forks

•  Dakota Growers Pasta Company, Carrington

•  Noodles by Leonardo, Cando and Devils Lake

•  Golden Plains Frozen Foods, Leeds

•  La Rinascente Pasta, Hope

Together, these companies annually use almost 16 million bushels of durum – about one-fourth of an average North Dakota crop - making it into approximately 600 million pounds of pasta. They provide jobs for about 490 people.

Two of the plants, Dakota Growers and Noodles by Leonardo, have integrated mills for grinding durum into semolina. Semolina is also produced at the state-owned N.D. Mill in Grand Forks and Minot Milling. Owned by Luke Marano, Minot Milling supplies semolina to the family’s pasta plants in Grand Forks and Philadelphia as well as to other pasta companies.

Noodles by Leonardo is the first combination durum mill and pasta plant to operate within the state of North Dakota. It was founded by Leonard Gasparre in 1980. The company mills durum at its Cando location and pasta is manufactured in both Cando and Devils Lake. Noodles by Leonardo supplies dry pasta to retail and food service customers, as well as for the USDA and the military. The company also makes convenient pasta dinners and a line of microwavable pasta meals.

Dakota Growers Pasta Company organized in 1991 as a cooperative of durum wheat growers. The grower cooperative was converted to a common stock corporation in 2002. Dakota Growers Pasta Company, Inc. continues as the third largest producer of dry pasta products in North America and is a leading supplier to the retail store brand, foodservice and industrial markets.

Last May, Dakota Growers launched the Dreamfields brand to supermarkets and foodservice distributors nationally.  Dreamfields has the taste and texture of regular pasta because it’s made primarily from durum wheat semolina.  However, a unique fiber blend recipe and technology results in 5 grams of digestible carbs per serving.  In addition to the Carrington plant, Dakota Growers also operates in New Hope, Minn.

Grand Forks pasta manufacturer Conte Luna Foods has proud Italian roots. Antonio Marano started parent company, Philadelphia Macaroni, in 1914 in the city for which it is named. Today, Philadelphia Macaroni Company is operated by Antonio’s grandson Luke and great-grandsons Luke Jr. and Mark. The company opened the plant in North Dakota in 1991 named Conte Luna Foods after its east coast retail brand, which literally means “Count Moon.” The Conte Luna plant makes dry pasta products for the ingredient market such as major brands of canned or dried pasta meals and soups.

Golden Plains Frozen Foods was opened by a small group of investors in 2001 in Leeds in a plant originally operated by former cooperative Farmers Choice Pasta. The company produces an array of gourmet and traditional filled-pasta shapes such as ravioli and tortellini as well as accompanying sauces. Its primary market is a national food service vendor.

La Rinascente Pasta opened in Hope in February 2004 under ownership of a group of local investors. The previously family-owned business has been in operation since 1952. The company makes “fideo” (pronounced “fe DAY oh”) pasta, like angel hair folded into a squarish loaf. The product is primarily marketed on the east coast, where it is popular among the Caribbean and Hispanic populations. The product is also popular with patrons of the grocery store in Hope, the only retail outlet in North Dakota.