Calico Mill

Giant strides in organic corn production

Nestled in Quebec’s picturesque Lanaudière region, the small but mighty Calico Mill emerges as a beacon of success, driven by a profound commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction. With a team of just three, the company has mastered the art of organic corn processing, setting a new standard in North America – and it’s their strategic embrace of automation that has put them at the forefront.

The Raynault brothers, Sylvain and Richard, have been in the farming business in Canada since 1985. They are experts in dairy farming, raising steers, and cultivating all manner of crops, including corn (maize), soybeans, green peas, extra-fine peas, and cereals. In 2020, they decided to use their rich heritage to redefine the organic corn market, identifying an untapped opportunity for human consumption.

In the region, corn was only milled on a large scale for animal feed. The brothers knew that they could not sell their product for feed at a price that matched the quality of their corn, so they refocused the resources of their farm, Ferme Bonneterre, and began growing high-value organic corn suited for food producers. They didn’t stop there. They also decided to start Canada’s first industrial corn mill for human consumption.

We’re committed to always giving our best. that’s why we started with the best organic corn and the best equipment.  day after day, our customers can rely on the same quality.

Sylvain Raynault, Co-Owner, Calico Mill Inc.

“I was born and raised in the area and started operating a farm here with my brother. We produce mainly corn, soy, wheat, and spelt. Everything but the corn was grown for human consumption, but with the high-quality corn we were producing, we had difficulty gaining value in the animal market,” explains Sylvain Raynault, Co-Owner, Calico Mill Inc. “Our vision was to increase the value of our high-quality, organic corn by processing it into a variety of products suited for human consumption.”

They started by setting up complimentary facilities right next to the farm, including a grain center that would directly supply the mill, and established systems to take organic cornmeal and organic corn flour to a larger market with their combined knowledge of farming and agriculture. However, when it came to milling equipment, they were completely in the dark.

General Manager Alexandre McGrath realized Calico Mill needed an industry expert. “We knew we were starting from scratch, and we knew we would need help figuring out what equipment to get,” McGrath explains. “We quickly realized there was so much to know, and we couldn’t just go and buy equipment. We really needed to partner with experienced people as well.”

Turning to Bühler

In their search for a reputable milling equipment company to guide them, it was important to find an organization that prioritized sustainability, efficiency, and quality. Their quest led to Bühler. It was not only Bühler’s focus on high-grade, sustainable solutions that appealed to the brothers, but it was the people and the level of support they received that sealed their decision.

“For us it was important to partner with a company that believes in organic production and sustainable development,” Raynault explains. “We knew that Bühler machines are high quality but had underestimated the quality and professionalism of the staff. They exceeded our expectations in terms of installation, follow-up, and all the advice they provided.”

calico mill calico mill The rollstand floor of the mill is capable of processing 72 tonnes a day, making it Canada’s largest processor of organic corn for human consumption.
calico mill calico mill Combining ease of operation with the required throughput keeps the Calico Mill ahead of the curve.

Since Calico Mill launched its project during the pandemic, they faced a unique set of hurdles. Due to the travel restrictions in place between the United States and Canada, Raynault and the team couldn’t visit Bühler’s Food Application Center in Minneapolis, or even meet their Bühler counterparts in person. Designing a mill under these circumstances was challenging, but through the use of video conferencing they were able to not only discuss, but also refine the details of the project.

Communication was key during this difficult time. “I have 27 years of experience in corn milling and was able to put all of that to use in order to connect with the Calico team and support them throughout their project,” explains Herman Roux, Regional Sales Manager at Bühler.

Roux designed a milling layout tailored to Calico’s organic corn quality and their desired products: cornmeal and corn flour. “We began by analyzing a sample of their corn at our Minneapolis Food Application Center to assess its hardness,” Roux says. Anticipating future growth plans, he recommended doubling the cleaning and degermination capacities from the outset. In the online meetings, a precise design emerged: a 72-tonne mill with cleaning and degermination capacity for up to 154 tonnes per day.

One of the most important aspects of the project for Sylvain Raynault was that the mill would “run itself”, according to Roux. “To meet Calico’s requirements, we equipped them with the Mercury MES plant automation system. We also provided comprehensive training on its operation. As a result, their miller can now manage the entire process from a centralized workstation.”

Find out more about how this small mill benefits from automation.

The project came together as planned, despite complicated logistics during the pandemic. Together, Bühler and Calico installed the mill. “We provided a team to assemble everything. They worked alongside a Bühler technologist who we managed to get on site even during the travel restrictions,” explains Raynault. “In the background, the entire operation was overseen by a remote Bühler team of specialists. It was a great collaboration and we were very satisfied with how smoothly the process ran.”

Since 2022, the Raynault brothers have been running a corn mill that conserves energy, optimizes water usage, and even finds a use for food-grade corn dust. Automation is their silent helper, enabling their lean team of three to oversee production. “The entire plant is fully automated from raw material to packaging. It is very efficient. We produce virtually no dust, either inside the plant or outside in the atmosphere, so it’s very environmentally friendly,” McGrath explains.

Small but mighty

By integrating automation and industry-leading expertise, Calico ensures not just quality but consistency and reliability across their product range. From the flour used in baked goods to the cornmeal enriching a myriad of recipes, the thread that connects them is Calico’s dedication to quality. “We’re committed to always giving our best. That’s why we started with the best organic corn and the best equipment. Day after day, our customers can rely on the same quality, and that is very important to us,” says Raynault.

We equipped Calico with Mercury MES and provided training on its operation. As a result, their miller can manage the entire process from a centralized workstation.

Herman Roux, Regional Sales Manager at Bühler

Calico has always had an eye on the horizon and the present mill is designed to accommodate future expansion. Plans for diversifying product lines are already laid out, ensuring that as consumer needs evolve, Calico will evolve with them.

“I believe that our company is unique. We produce organic flour from raw materials from our own farm. This reassures our buyers because they know where the product they are buying comes from,” Raynault explains. “With our high production capacity, we are in a strong position to meet the ever-growing needs of leading organic food companies.”

Who: Calico Mill Inc.

When: Founded in 2022.

Where: St. Paul, Quebec, Canada

What: Calico Mill is Canada’s largest processor of organic corn for human consumption.

Customers: Calico Mill’s customers include food processors, wholesale, and food service suppliers.

Bühler: Calico Mill uses a complete Bühler milling and automation solution for corn.

Content Block

How can we help?

Gupfenstrasse 5