Wheat reception and control: how does it work? 

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What if you went behind the scenes of our mills?

As a miller since 1919, we have been supplying French bakers with quality flour for more than 100 years, which we now grind in our 7 regional mills. In order to be able to manufacture these floursseveral steps are necessary before crushing the first grain of wheat.

Follow us, we'll explain everything!

Wheat reception

We only use high quality milling wheat. The supply from the storage organizations to our mills can be done in several ways: by truck, by train, by barge, and even via a conveyor belt connected directly from the cooperative's silo to one of our mills!

Every day, many tons of wheat arrive at our mills. As we pay particular attention to our environmental footprint, we favour the use ofecological transportsuch as train or barge, whenever possible.

Our mill in the city of Marseille, the only one with an electric locomotive!

At moulin de Marseille, 64% of the wheat arrives by train !

Every week, a train supplies the mill in Marseille with 1,320 tons of wheat grown in Burgundy-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, among other regions. Once this train has arrived at its destination - a railroad spur line is located 500 meters from the mill - a locomotive carries the wagons to the reception pit where the wheat is unloaded. The wheat is then vacuumed - at a rate of 80 tons per hour - to the wheat silo storage for use in flour extraction. An operator controls this locomotive by remote control for the unloading operation and another employee supervises the storage at the wheat silo. The unloading of a train takes about 20 hours.

What is the locotractor?


A locotractor is a railroad engine used for shunting cars. In our case, when the train arrives near the mill, we divide it into chains of 6 or 8 cars. The locomotive will then hook up to the cars and take them to the receiving pit. Historically, our mill in Marseille used a locomotive that ran on fuel oil.

In 2022, after a first conclusive test, we have decided to replace it by an electric locotractorwhich is quieter, more reliable, more economical and more ecological. We then trained five people to drive this machine. They have all received an authorization, which they must renew every three years.

Reliability is a very important characteristic of this locotractor. Indeed, every week we receive a train loaded with 1300 tons of wheat. If the train is not unloaded on time, the entire logistics chain suffers, with impacts that can quickly become significant.

The choice of electric power also eliminates the use of fossil fuels, which have a environmental impact. The choice of electric power was motivated by our desire to continue our environmental efforts. By favouring the delivery of wheat by ecological transport, we were already committed to the environment. Today, by choosing an electric locotractor, we have strengthened this commitment and created a complete chain of responsible transport that echoes our Group's sustainable development approach: LINK.

"The electric locotractor is the future, it allows us to get rid of fossil fuels." José Torres, wheat supply manager at the Marseille mill

The closest mill to the Eiffel Tower, supplied by barge!

Our mill in Paris-Gennevilliers isthe closest to the Eiffel Tower! Only 7 kilometers from the gates of Paris, this mill has the advantage of being located on the banks of the Seine.

Thanks to this positioning, two thirds of wheat supplies are made by barge and come mainly from Île-de-France and come mainly from the Île-de-France region via the Seine, Yonne, Marne and Oise rivers. Every year, 80,000 tons of wheat are transported by river to the Paris-Gennevilliers mill!

Once at the mill, the unloading is done thanks to the vigan, a kind of big vacuum cleaner which sucks the wheat directly inside the hold of the barge and directs it in the mill. This unloading takes several hours.

Discover in video the testimonies of Sébastien Picaud andMr & Mrs Maingault who supply our mill with wheat by barge for many years. They work and live a real passion for theirs boatx and share a strong commitment to thefor the environment!

The Verneuil mill, supplied directly via a strip connected to the Valfrance cooperative's silo!


The mill of VerneuilThe mill in Verneuil, in Seine et Marne, is fortunate to be located next to one of the silos of the Valfrance cooperative. To take advantage of this proximity, a strip connecting the silo of the cooperative directly to our mill was designed in 1983.

This overhead conveyor belt, similar to a conveyor belt, is 150 meters long. Four to five times a week, this conveyor belt allows the transport of batches of 200 tons, that is to say between 800 and 1000 tons of wheat per week. The reception rate is 100 tons per hour.

Thus the supply via this band represents 45% of the wheat that we receive each year at the mill of Verneuil.

This electric band is a further step in our environmental approach. Indeed, this supply system allows us to reduce the transit by truck and to favour the purchase of wheat from nearby.

Quality control of wheat

Before and after the arrival of the wheat in our mills, controls are carried out. They allow us to ensure our customers a constant quality quality of flour as much at the organoleptic level as at the food safety level.

David Angelini, QSE manager, José Torres, supply manager and Gwenaëlle Merlo, product quality manager, explain how these control processes take place at the Marseille mill.

"A sample of everything that goes in and everything that comes out is analyzed." Jose Torres

A first quality control before delivery

When we schedule a wheat supply, whatever the mode of transport, the storage organization sends us a representative sample of the batch that will be delivered to validate it. If this one is validated, the wheat can then take the road.

In order to secure our supplies by train (considering the volumes received each week), a pre-control of the loading from the cooperative is carried out by an approved control organization, which makes it possible to secure and follow the loading before its reception.

A second check before unloading

Regardless of how the wheat is transported to the mill, a sample is always checked upon arrival: an initial visual inspection and a sifting process are used to check for impurities and insects. Then, a control with an infrared system allows to check the temperature, the humidity and the specific weight of the wheat.

If the sample does not conform, the batch of wheat does not enter the mill. If not, the unloading can take place and further controls are then carried out in the laboratory.

Throughout the harvest, in order to meet regulatory requirements, our wheat and flour are subject to specific analytical monitoring through our Food Safety Plan (FSP).

Regular laboratory controls of wheat quality

During this stage, several samples from the same batch are brought to the laboratory and then rapidly transformed into flour in a so-called trial mill. This is aminiature mill that allows a small quantity of wheat to be ground and the resulting flour to be analyzed .

There are several types of analysis to be carried out according to the wheat delivered. For hard wheat, we carry out a physico-chemical analysis and a rheological analysis. Wheat suitable for bread-making will be subjected to the same analyses as well as to an additional technical analysis.

The physico-chemical analysisallows to control the humidity, the ash rate and the falling time (germination index of the wheat).

Rheological analysisThe rheological analysis, using an alveograph, measures the baking value of a flour to ensure the quality of the flours.

These first two analyses are performed by laboratory technicians.

Technological analysisThe technological analysis consists in subjecting the flour to all the stages of bread-making: kneading, fermentation, relaxation, shaping, resting and baking. The breadmaking test determines the baking quality of pure wheat varieties or blends, it allows to optimize a formulation and controls the aptitude of a flour to be marketed.

This last analysis is performed by a test baker.

All these analyses allow us to to ensure consistency in the quality of the flour that we produce.

Focus on new crops:

At the time of the new harvest, the cooperatives send samples to each of our mills to be analyzed.nalyzedby our quality teams. From these analyses, we can draws trends and advice for our artisanal bakers, which we group together in what we call thebakers in what we call the Harvest Letter.

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