Weetabix has confirmed it will be able to source all the wheat used in its products from local British farms, despite tightening supply and an early harvest spurred on by the year’s extreme weather.

The brand, which buys wheat from two merchants that source from 160 farms local to Weetabix’s Northamptonshire base rather than on the open market, says it will meet its commitment to local sourcing despite the severe heat and lack of rain having pushed crops through their growth stages quicker than normal, bringing harvest forward by seven to 10 days ahead of the norm - the earliest harvest for Weetabix in 86 years.

Yet the picture may not be as bright for other UK buyers, who could be forced to look elsewhere. “The weather in June was particularly unhelpful for wheat crops,” says Helen Plant, senior market analyst at AHDB.

Indeed, spot prices for bread-quality wheat have surged, rising 32% year on year to £189.80 per tonne [AHDB 52 w/e 24 August 2018].

“There is some talk among the industry that we could see higher imports this year, but the problem is much of northern Europe, some of our typical trading partners, have also been hit and supply is tighter,” says Plant.

But, she adds: “The positive from a food manufacture point of view is that we are hearing the quality of the crop has been very good.”

It is unclear whether retail prices for wheat-based foods could be affected, given much of the wheat used in British food manufacturing is bought on contract, adds Rabobank commodity analyst Charles Clack.

“In terms of consumers I think the impact of current wheat prices won’t be felt quite yet. But if they are maintained at these levels for a period of six months or so then we could start to see that following through into the retail sector.”