Regal's grain mill debuts.
Breadmakers appeal to consumers because they give them the opportunity to control the ingredients found in the breads they eat, putting greater emphasis on freshness and whole grains. "Our test kitchens confirmed that the flavor of bread was significantly enhanced when freshly milled flour was used," according to a spokeswoman.
The grain mill targets consumers with special dietary needs, as well as the health conscious. More than three million people in the U.S. are allergic to wheat or are diagnosed with celiac sprue, according to Regal. They use non-wheat flours to bake gluten-free breads, and many of these flours have a short shelf life. The mill provides an opportunity to grind cornmeal and rice, for example, at home.
According to Phil Ketter, Regal's director of marketing, the Kitchen Pro grain mill received considerable attention at the Housewares Show. "Buyers were particularly responsive to the $49.99 suggested retail price," he said. Grain mills currently on the market are large and target the professional user, and fetch a retail price of at least $200. Regal's unit is compact, about half the size of a breadmaker, yet employs a true burr grinder. The mill has a three-cup capacity, and enables users to grind only as much flour as needed for a particular bread recipe.
An industry source noted that Regal's grain mill represented an interesting niche. "Up until now, there have been no flour mills sold under well-known brand names," he said. "Regal's offering is unique in that it is a well-known housewares manufacturer promoting a grain mill for ordinary household use, and at a significantly lower cost than models designed for professional use."
Regal markets the grain mill at mass retail, targeting users of breadmakers and pastamakers. The unit grinds using burrs rather than blades, with settings ranging from fine to coarse.
"Regal's introduction of the grain mill is in direct response to the steady growth of our breadmaker business over the years," Ketter said. He noted that Regal's breadmaker sales in 1988 totaled 4,500 units. "Last year, however, we had a surge in sales, selling more breadmakers than in the previous eight years combined."
According to the company, the grain mill is an ideal accessory item to foster additional business. "The market for our breadmakers has really taken off, and we decided to offer another item that would help buyers increase sales while offering consumers something new to go with their breadmakers," the spokeswoman said.