Hovis launches premium British Farmers loaf

Premier is looking to a patriotic new Hovis loaf to help turn around its bread division.

The food giant this week launched the British Farmers loaf, which is decked out with Union Jack bunting and carries the name and image of farmers that supply the brand’s 100% British wheat.

The 800g loaf, available in white and wholemeal, has a traditional overhang shape and is dusted with flour.

Described by Premier as a premium product, it carries a £1.40 rsp but has been launched into Tesco at an introductory price of £1 before wider rollout next week. It replaces the brand’s previous farmers loaves.

“Hovis has the potential to be a much bigger player in the premium bread sector,” said Hovis brand director Matthew Hunt. “These products hero the hard work and achievement Hovis farmers put in to make Hovis from British wheat.”

Industry sources said it was high time Hovis made more of its 100% British wheat credentials. “What’s the point of paying for British wheat if you’re not going to tell consumers about it?” said Mintel food and drink analyst Alex Beckett. “Previous attempts to do this have seemed superficial but this looks much better.”

The launch comes a month after Premier revealed profits at its bread division had fallen 90% last year from £35.3m in 2010 to £3.4m and that the company’s £259.1m pre-tax loss was largely down to a £282m impairment charge relating to its Hovis business.

Although sales of Hovis have risen 1.8% to £414m, this has been driven by price increases - and volume sales have fallen 3.5% [SymphonyIRI 52w/e 19 February 2011].

The launch will be supported by a £3.5m push from May to September that includes TV, press, radio and digital activity alongside an in-store push including sampling.