Ocrim hosts 'Wheat, flour, and …'

by Meyer Sosland
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Attendees at Ocrim's 'Wheat, Flour, and...' conference enjoy some networking time at the event held in Cremona, Italy. 
Photo by Dan Flavin. 
The Tuscan region of Italy was the setting for the seventh edition of Cremona, Italy-based Ocrim SpA’s “Wheat, Flour, And…” Sept. 15-17. More than 200 members of the global milling community from Asia, North America, Africa, Europe and elsewhere attended the event, which featured discussions of innovative new technology.

Events began on Sept. 15, at the Fratta Santa Caterina property, a farm and stately country house that is owned by Bonifiche Ferraresi. Ocrim’s owners, brothers Alberto and Sergio Antolini, recently have become investors in the Ferraresi Agricultural Company, whose goal is to bring a range of sustainable and high-quality food products to consumers’ tables. The company obtains this through innovative agriculture, capable of enhancing the excellence of the Italian agri-food supply chain and protecting the territory and the natural resources of the country.

The evening began with a video about Bonifiche Ferraresi and was followed by an introduction by the company’s president — Frederico Vecchioni. The company owns four farms covering 5,500 hectares (approximately 13,600 acres) on which it cultivates rice, corn, hard and soft wheat, barley, sugar beet, medical herbs, sunflower, soybeans, vegetables, herbs and fruit. Bonifiche Ferraresi is among the largest landowners in Italy.

This was followed by a greeting from Alberto Antolini, chief executive officer of Ocrim. After discussing his family’s passion for the bounty of Italy’s agriculture, Alberto Antolini introduced a trailer for the “Gente Matta” (Crazy People) video that would be viewed at the beginning of the educational conference the following day.

Educational conference

Alberto Antolini opened the educational conference by thanking the audience for attending and explained that Ocrim had organized the event to inform its customers and partners.

“We will be talking about the present and future of milling technology,” he said. Alberto Antolini noted that his family purchased Ocrim in 2009, and their passion for milling has only increased. “The joy in what we do is huge,” he said.

The first presenter was Lutz Popper of Mühlenchemie, who spoke about enzymes and maturing agents that can improve flour’s baking properties. These included plant, animal and microbe-based enzymes. Popper sought to provide clarity to many topics related to additives used in the food.

Fabio Vuoto, director of Ocrim’s technical department, followed Popper and discussed Ocrim’s dosing systems for macro- and micro-ingredients. His talk analyzed the plant engineering. Vuoto addressed the equipment and engineering solutions that Ocrim produces to apply the ingredients to the flour at the mill, during harvest and in the production mixing lines.

Maurizio Galbignani, operations manager at Ocrim, debuted Ocrim’s new virtual reality technology that enables users to look inside a 3D model of a roller mill. Ocrim is using the technology to design flour mills and sees the opportunities to train customer’s staff and address future service issues in real time across the globe. Guests were given an opportunity to try on the virtual reality goggles and to experience the 3D world for themselves.

Marco Galli, manager of Ocrim’s technical department, gave a presentation called “Sanitation: New Frontiers.” Galli described how Ocrim is striving to provide solutions to satisfy consumer needs. He noted that “obtaining and maintaining a high level of sanitation inside a mill is a complex process that requires dedication and consistency, but it is important to know that Ocrim studies and creates solutions that can facilitate the attainment of these objectives.”

Stefano Mazzini, sales manager at Ocrim, presented “BioStoneMill: the Ocrim Evolution.” Mazzini told the assembled crowd that “the market strives to follow consumer trends. Today, alternative trends are the direction, and flours are in the forefront. BioStoneMill guarantees the union between tradition and innovation, because the raw material is processed in a ‘traditional manner’ but uses innovative machinery that comes from Ocrim’s 70-plus years of experience, on top of which the raw material itself goes through strict controls before processing.”

An interior designer that Ocrim has partnered with named Francesca Bocchi announced that Ocrim is developing the HomeOcrim (HO), where industry partners will be able to stay when visiting the company’s headquarters in Cremona. Bocchi noted that while e-mail has shortened the distances between people, it is still not a substitute for face-to-face interaction. The HO is a house in old Cremona that will be a place for those who visit Ocrim to have a home away from home designed for work and downtime. It will include a kitchen, courtyard, dining room, sitting room and bedrooms.

The conference was called to an end by the Antolini brothers. Alberto emphasized that they wanted to make it clear that Ocrim is a family company that deeply values its relationships with the industries they serve. Sergio ended with the final message: “You with us, and we with you.”