Berte Qvarn

The natural choice

Berte Qvarn in Sweden have been milling wheat and rye for 450 years. When Oatly, the biggest producer of oat milk in the world, contacted Berte Qvarn to process oats for them, it was clear from day one that Bühler would design, build, and support the running of the plant. Today, the family-owned company operates one of the most modern oat processing plants in the world – a testament to the revival of oats as a healthy and nutritious superfood, and perfectly in tune with the company’s far-sighted sustainability targets. 


Helena Stenström’s gaze wanders across Berte Qvarn’s milling headquarters in Slöinge, located between Malmö and Gothenburg in the south of Sweden. On the right, adjacent to the Suseån river, stands the picturesque brick building where her family started milling wheat a mere 14 generations ago. The old hydroelectric power station is testament to their drive for sustainability and will soon be modernized to supply up to 40 percent of the energy needs for the milling operations. To its left towers the modern wheat mill with the storage silos, where Sweden’s oldest family-owned company processes 70,000 tons of wheat per year. On the far left, slightly elevated, the state-of-the-art oat processing plant catches her eye.

“These three buildings tell our company’s history in a nutshell ¬ the stable business, and the knowledge in wheat milling that has been passed from generation to generation. And then there’s the oat processing plant, not even two years old, which allows us to add another product to our range, to increase our expertise, and, last but not least, to take a major step towards achieving our sustainability goals of reducing our footprint by 50 percent by 2030,” she explains. 

Customer_Berte Qvarn-Old building-134 Customer_Berte Qvarn-Old building-134 The brick building from 1899 is still used today as a warehouse for wheat and rye.
Customer_Berte Qvarn-136 Customer_Berte Qvarn-136 Up to 1890, Berte Qvarn milled wheat with traditional millstones.

Helena Stenström is Head of Sustainability for the Berte Group, which includes an ice cream business with a market share of 20 percent in Sweden, an organic farm with 240 cows and just as many calves, and Berte Qvarn, the milling branch.

So why did Berte Qvarn add oats to the menu? “As a family-owned company, we see it as our duty to consider the well-being of the next generations in all our business decisions. We’re working on a project together with local farmers called ‘Towards a fossil-free, diversified farm’. It focuses on improving every step of the grain’s journey from farm to fork,” explains Stenström. “Oats play a vital part in this ecosystem in terms of crop rotation and add valuable nutrients to the soil. They’re a very popular, locally grown grain in Scandinavia, and offer a high level of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and essential minerals.” 


We see that people around the world have become more aware of what they consume and put a strong focus on regional, sustainable products that add health benefits.

HELENA STENSTRÖM, Head of Sustainability of Berte Group


On top of the numerous health and environmental benefits, there’s never been a better time to invest in oats. The oat market experienced rapid growth during  the pandemic, as consumer demand for healthy foods has soared over the past two years. According to the industry research provider The Insight Partners, the global oat market is projected to reach up to USD 10 billion by 2028, up from around USD 7.8 billion in 2021. 

Naturally, Berte Qvarn had oats in their sights for some time and, as often in life, all it took was a little push in the right direction for the idea to become reality: Oatly, the world’s biggest producer of oat milk, asked them to become their supplier. Tomas Wennerholm, Global Oat Supply Manager at Oatly, recalls how smoothly the discussions went. 

“When two companies share the same values and vision, they’re building a partnership rather than negotiating a business agreement. We chose Berte Qvarn because of their close relationship with local farmers, and because of their reputation as a reliable partner in grain processing,” Wennerholm explains. “The fact that Berte Qvarn gets all their oats from farmers within 100 kilometers of their headquarters was a decisive factor, as it perfectly fits our sustainability targets.” 

Customer_Berte Qvarn-Helena Stenstroem-108 Customer_Berte Qvarn-Helena Stenstroem-108 Helena Stenström, Head of Sustainability of Berte Group


Supplying the best quality to Oatly

When the partnership was agreed and the ink was dry in 2019, time was of the essence. Oatly is a fast-growing company, which supplies major retail stores on all continents and is the supplier of choice for the global coffee chain giant, Starbucks. The date for the first deliveries to Oatly’s processing facility in Malmö, about 150 kilometers south of Slöinge, was set for February 2021.

That’s where Magnus Lindblom, wheat miller turned oat miller at Berte Qvarn, comes into play. “Once I learned about the decision to start processing oats, I was on board immediately and volunteered to be trained as an oat miller after 20 years in wheat milling. I’m proud to work for 

Customer_Berte Qvarn-38 Customer_Berte Qvarn-38 Berte Qvarn’s intake capacity is 90 tons per hour, and its output is around 50 tons of finished product per hour.

Berte Qvarn and to be able to contribute to a more sustainable future. Adding oats to our portfolio was a natural choice for me, and I had to grab this chance. Not only because I’m convinced of the many benefits oats bring to the table, but also to broaden my horizon and add new skills to my own portfolio,” he explains. “Luckily, we have a very experienced and committed partner on our side with Bühler, who had already built and equipped the wheat mill with their state-of-the-art technology, so it was a seamless transition for all of us at Berte Qvarn.” 

And just 18 months after volunteering to be trained as an oat miller, Magnus Lindblom stands  in one of the world’s most modern oat processing facilities and checks

the process parameters on his tablet. “Our intake capacity is 90 tons per hour, and our output is around 50 tons of finished product per hour. The Mercury MES (Manufacturing Execution System) provides us with all relevant process details at our fingertips. That’s an incredible level of efficiency if you compare it to the old days, when a miller had to constantly walk through the mill and check the parameters manually,” he says. 

Together with his colleague, Lindblom operates the entire plant in two shifts of 12 hours each. And it is thanks to this high level of automation and working in longer shifts that he has four days a week to enjoy with his family. This is another key benefit of an ultra-modern operation, and an example of the future of work many companies are designing to attract and retain highly qualified employees in a competitive hiring market.

Thomas Höhndorf, Area Sales Manager at Bühler, was involved in this project from the first meeting to the start-up of the plant in 2020. He cites Berte Qvarn’s drive for innovation and commitment to highest quality as key factors for the success of the project. “From day one, we knew we were on a tight schedule. But thanks to our long-standing relationship in wheat milling and Berte Qvarn’s trust in our solutions for oat processing, we pulled in the same direction from the go with the clear goal to deliver the best possible product to Oatly.” 

Bühler supplied Berte Qvarn across the full value chain from intake to cleaning, dehulling, and kilning. “The latest generation of optical sorters ensures highest food safety by reducing cross-contamination from other grain varieties, discoloration, subtle spots, and various foreign material,” says Höhndorf. It is after the kilning process that the oats are transported in the eye-catching yellow Berte Qvarn trucks to Oatly in Malmö, where the  finishing touches will be applied to produce the world-renowned oat milk. 

Customer_Berte Qvarn-Magnus and Thomas-2 Customer_Berte Qvarn-Magnus and Thomas-2 In just 18 months, Berte Qvarn’s new oat processing plant was up and running and ready to supply Oatly at scale.
Customer_Berte Qvarn-Outside view-119 Customer_Berte Qvarn-Outside view-119 The oat processing facility in Slöinge has been designed to increase output as demand for oat-based products continues to soar.


Every miller around the world knows that there is always potential for increasing efficiency and output even at the best-run mills. Magnus Lindblom is convinced that continuous training and customer service worthy of this modern plant are essential to reaching the next level, and therefore the company is making best use of a TotalCare maintenance agreement with Bühler. 

“State-of-the-art equipment requires a state-of-the-art service agreement. Bühler’s continuous support and the regular training we receive are indispensable to getting the most out of our facility,” Lindblom says.


Creating sustainable food value chains

Digitalization has long made its way into the milling industry, and Lindblom and his team are ready to embrace the opportunities it offers. “We’re now looking into the many possibilities of Bühler’s cloud platform Bühler Insights. Our goal is to collect even more data from our processes and turn these insights into actions to increase our output and reduce food loss. At the end of the day, we have a responsibility as food processors to use our planet’s resources as efficiently as possible and create sustainable food value chains for future generations,” he says as he heads into the mill to collect a sample for quality check. After all, a miller’s experience will always be a key asset in successfully running a mill.

With such a rich history, a drive for creating more sustainable value chains from the soil to the shelf, and a genuine appreciation of their employees, the question is, where will the road take Berte Qvarn next? 

For Helena Stenström, oats will continue their victory march, and rightly so. “Here in Scandinavia, oats are found everywhere; it’s natural to use oat based cosmetics, for example. We see that people around the world have become more aware of what they consume and are putting a strong focus on regional, sustainable products that add health benefits. That’s why we’re prepared to increase our output and do our part to facilitate the comeback of oats to supermarket shelves around the world.”

Thanks to our long-standing relationship in wheat milling and Berte Qvarn’s trust in our solutions for oat processing, we pulled in the same direction from the start.

THOMAS HÖHNDORF, Area Sales Manager at Bühler


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