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Phil Hinrichs Talks about His Ag Products Business

Posted by struscott | December 5, 2009

Phil Hinrichs, president and owner of Hinrichs Trading Company, said the most important part in buying and selling agricultural products is to have a relationship with the grower and the customer.

“It takes a lot of trust,” Hinrichs said. “If you get in and have a relationship with the customer you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll be back next year.”

Hinrichs discussed the economic aspects of food and agricultural production, what he calls “the trophy in marketing.” Hinrichs Trading Company buys chickpeas, along with whole green and yellow beans, split green and yellow beans, lentils and popcorn from farmers. The company then markets them to domestic and international packagers and canning companies.

Hinrichs said this week a potential customer is coming to visit the Pullman location and will possibly decide whether to buy from Hinrichs Trading Company. The potential customer is Sabra, a hummus brand partially owned by Frito-Lay.

Hinrichs said in order to land a big company like Sabra, he must prioritize and be willing to possibly lose a foreign buyer.

“I am willing to take the risk to get a domestic customer,” Hinrichs said. Seventy percent of Hinrichs Trading Company customers are domestic.

Hinrichs said his company decided to become more fully integrated across the spectrum of production and distribution. Hinrichs said building a seed plant allows growers to buy their seeds directly from them, also benefiting the company by letting them know exactly what the grower plants.

More storage was also added, along with a new processing plant. Hinrichs said they only had 60 days to get the plant built before harvest started. This is Hinrichs Trading Company’s seventh plant.

Hinrichs Trading Company is a privately held company and has locations in several states. Hinrichs said that last year they were able to double their employment and have employees stationed throughout the U.S.

“I stand behind my product,” said Hinrichs. “We have values and we know what we can do.”

By Whitney Parsons, CAHNRS Marketing and News Intern

Washington State University’s Common Reading Program for the year has the entire campus and much of the state and nation talking about food and agriculture. What better way to highlight the cutting-edge science, research, teaching and outreach of Washington’s land-grant university and, at the same time, help to educate our students about what they eat and where it comes from?

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