Belgian retailer Colruyt Group has set up a new local chain for organic bread production with five farmers, the flour mill Molens van Oudenaarde and bakery Atelier du Pain.
The eight partners are committed to growing high-quality organic baking wheat, which will be processed into organic bread of Belgian origin.
The organic bread SKUs will be available by the autumn of this year in 31 Bio-Planet stores and the retailer’s online shop.
The initiative aims to support the Belgian organic baking wheat sector and create a wide assortment of Belgian products on the store shelves.
The retailer believes that produced food plays a vital role in helping customers consume more consciously and sustainably.
Belgian wheat bread SKUs are seldom found in stores as the cultivation of baking wheat is burdened with financial uncertainties for farmers.
The yield from baking wheat is much lower and farmers get about the same price for baking wheat as for feed wheat, Colruyt added.
Other challenges include wheat imports from Germany and Eastern Europe and unpredictable weather conditions that affect the quality of crops.
The new chain set up by Colruyt will provide guaranteed sales for each of the parties involved and boost the Belgian organic wheat sector by encouraging other crop farmers to opt for high-quality organic baking wheat varieties.
The partners will receive support from the knowledge institution Inagro (Research and Advice in Agriculture and Horticulture).
The five crop farmers, spread across Belgium, have sowed 12 hectares of baking wheat in total. They hope to harvest about 55 tonnes of wheat in August, if all goes well.
Crop supervisor from Inagro, Lieven Delanote, said, “For baking wheat, the protein quality is very important. We can achieve this with specific varieties.
“From our variety research, the winter wheat Mochus and Arminius and the spring wheat Feeling were selected together with the partners. We are therefore following up this project closely and will share the knowledge with the entire wheat sector.”
After harvesting, the wheat will go to the Molens van Oudenaarde mills, which will grind it into Belgian organic flour.
Bakery Atelier du Pain will bake quality organic bread for Bio-Planet stores and Colruyt’s online platform with this flour.
"We are aiming for three different types of organic bread and together with Atelier du Pain, we are now looking at which ones we will be offering," said Jan Van Holsbeke, Bio-Planet division manager.
“In the longer term, we certainly want to increase the proportion of Belgian bread on our shelves. After all, that is still the main goal of this new chain: to offer our customers bread made from Belgian raw materials and by Belgian players and, in this way, to set in motion a positive movement that will enable the Belgian organic baking wheat sector to flourish,” Van Holsbeke added.