Weetabix has reaffirmed its commitment to local sourcing and introduced improved traceability, meaning each shipment of the wheat it uses can now be traced to a particular farm.
The supplier introduced its ‘wheat protocol’ in 2010, pledging to source wheat only from farms within 50 miles of its factory in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire. It buys from 150 farms in the region, through wheat merchants Gleadall and Fengrain. The protocol includes commitments to guarantee the quality of the wholegrain wheat and ensure the protection of the local environment.
“With the support of our growers I know that every single one of the 365 grains in each Weetabix biscuit is absolutely packed full of essential protein, iron and wholegrain goodness,” said Weetabix ingredient purchasing manager Hitesh Bhatia. “Reviewing our wheat protocol in partnership with our farmers will allow us to continue to guarantee a best-in-class breakfast for the British public.”
Farmer Robert Rouston, whose farm in Leicestershire supplies wheat to Weetabix, said: “To grow wheat for Weetabix is a local badge of honour. This year we have over 500 tonnes growing well, and I know the quality of my wheat will be reflected in every spoonful enjoyed at British breakfast tables. This will be my fifth harvest with Weetabix and I’ve noticed a real improvement in the wildlife I see as I walk my fields.”
Weetabix made the pledge as Defra secretary Liz Truss announced the creation of a Great British Food Unit, which will bring together experts from across government to help British businesses grow their export sales. The unit has been given the long-term goal of helping the UK achieve parity with France and Germany, which both have more than double the UK’s food and drink exports in value terms.
The unit will support foreign investment into the UK food industry, with the aim of encouraging deals such as the sale of 60% of Weetabix to Chinese food manufacturing giant Bright Foods for £1.2bn in 2012. The cereal has since grown its international distribution to 80 countries.
“We produce more new food products each year than France and Germany combined,” said Truss. “My long-term aspiration is for the UK to match both these countries in terms of the value of exports so our food and drink becomes a worldwide phenomenon.
“It is vital for our economic future that we make British food and farming all it can be - over the next five years we will do that by backing big business, supporting punchy start-ups and embracing our rich food heritage.”