In Aveyron, the Calvet mill produces local flour for 450 bakers from the Great South

the essential
The Rignac company has received the Agri-Ethique label, which encourages fair trade. Le meunier aims to improve the traceability of the sector, from fields to baguettes.

With over 200 years of operation, the Calvet mill has produced millions of tons of flour. The family business is now in its seventh generation. The establishment, based in Rignac, has grown over the decades. However, the mill has not lost its local identity, with a production of flour made from Occitan wheat.

Last week, the mill received the Agri’Ethique label, which encourages fair trade. The aim is to strengthen the links between the various players in this production chain, from farmers to bakers, passing through the miller. “More and more consumers are looking for meaning. They want to know what’s behind it. The idea is to defend local employment and short circuits”, underlines Richard Schultz, commercial director.

Lock in prices

“This label is also a response to inflation,” he continues. “We enter into commitments with farmers over three-year periods, with fixed prices. This allows them better visibility to anticipate loads. It is a local approach, unrelated to global markets, where prices are very volatile. We prefer wheat that respects the environment, with few inputs and fewer pesticides”.

The farmers sell their raw material directly to Rouergue Auvergne Gévaudan Tarnais, a seed company based in Rodez. The Calvet mill then takes the flour from the group to transform it into flour. The structure brings together about thirty employees. “The whole chain is interdependent. Without a farmer there are no bakers and vice versa,” says Maxime Bonnard, responsible for developing the Agri-Ethics brand.

“Differentiating from the big franchises”

At the end of the supply chain, the mill supplies nearly 450 artisan bakers throughout the Grand Sud basin. Approximately 320,000 baguettes are produced every day with the flour that leaves the factory. “We want to encourage signature breads to differentiate ourselves from competitors, especially big franchises,” explains Richard Schultz.

And the mill hasn’t finished growing. “There are 28 grain silos, representing a stock of 350,000 tons of grain,” adds Richard Schultz. “We expect to double production capacity for this year’s crop within a few weeks. Always maintaining our economic model of fair trade”.

The number

On average, 50% of bakers’ turnover comes from bread and pastry. “Flour is essential to calculate the cost price for professionals and to have fixed prices is one of the challenges,” the Agri-Ethique label points out.

Wheat, a volatile market

In 2022, the price of wheat peaked, reaching 430 euros per ton. Consumers were the first to feel the effects, with the increase in the price of a kilo of flour on the shelves, but also of pasta. Several factors can explain this crisis: the increase in the world population, the multiplication of droughts, especially in the major producing countries. And above all, with the war in Ukraine, Europe’s granary, the country has seen its production collapse, which has panicked the markets. Prices have been falling since last October and have fallen to around 230 euros per tonne.

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