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A Bengaluru-based start-up is all set to revolutionise French bread

Vishwanath Kulkarni Recently in Rouen | Updated on July 16, 2019 Published on July 16, 2019

LEMPA Director Pierre-Tristan Fleury and Croitre Millet Co-founder Swetha Ashwath Narayan display bread produced from millet premixes at LEMPA

Bakers in France will soon be making bread with millets supplied by Croitre

Health-conscious people in France are set to get a treat from India soon with the humble millet set to debut on the French bakery circuit.

Bakers in this European nation, known for its love of food, will use flours of nutritive cereals such as finger millet (ragi), pearl millet (bajra) and proso millet along with wheat flour to make bread and other products.

Before finding their way into French boulangeries, new ingredients are normally tested and tried by the Rouen-based Laboratoire D’essais Des Materiels Et Produits Alimentaires (LEMPA). The French national laboratory for bakery and pastry products has developed breads using three different millet pre-mixes supplied by a Bengaluru-based start-up Croitre Millet Pvt Ltd.

LEMPA now expects to promote the Croitre Millet’s pre-mixes by recommending their usage by bakers across France, where demand for gluten-free products is on the rise. As such, millets are used as bird feed in France.

“The way bread is eaten here, it was a challenge producing a bread using millet flour as there’s hardly any gluten content in it. By mixing it with wheat flour, we have now found the right combination to make breads,” said Pierre Tristan Fleury, Director, LEMPA.

Millet flour is being used to produce bread for the first time, Fleury said. Wheat is the primary ingredient in French breads, with other types of flour such as corn and rye also used. The pre-mixes developed by Croitre went through rigorous testing by LEMPA for protein content and acidic levels, among others, for several months. LEMPA has also carried out a nutritional analysis of bread made with millet pre-mixes at another research entity, Praxens, said Fleury.

Taking the mill route

Croitre is in the process of setting up a company in Caen in the Normandie region. “We expect to start shipping the cereals from India from October onwards,” says Swetha Ashwath Narayana, one of the four founders of Croitre. The company expects to source the grains from farmer-producer groups.

Croitre has received a recommendation letter for business development from LEMPA and will soon be tapping into the French flour milling sector. “The idea is to get the grains to France and mill them locally,” said Narayana, a techie turned entrepreneur.

Aparajita Sen, Charge d'Affaires International at AD Normandie, an agency that supports local businesses, sees good potential for a company such as Croitre in France as demand for health food is rising. There is no cultivation of millets in France, but consumers regularly buy them from organic health food shops. “LEMPA has been able to make very tasty bread using millet flour imported from India, with high nutritional value, especially for phosphate and Vitamin B. It’s possible to make completely gluten-free products, which have a huge market today in France and Europe," said Sen.

India is the world’s largest producer of millets. Currently, export of millets takes place in small quantities. However, they have been rising, and demand from France will only take this higher.

The writer was in Normandie at the invitation of the French Agriculture Ministry

Published on July 16, 2019
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