One year after Hovis and Warburtons battled it out to launch the first all-British loaf, Weetabix has gone even further, promising to source 100% of its wheat within 50 miles of production.

From January, Weetabix will buy all its wheat from a dedicated group of farmers based within 50 miles of its home in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire.

'Weetabix Country' farmers will be paid a premium on the wheat they supply, making the buyer-supplier relationship more of a partnership, said marketing controller Adrian Mooney.

Before, the vast majority of Weetabix wheat was sourced from British farms "local" to the mill, but on occasion the right specification was not available and wheat was sourced abroad, he added.

Now, all the Weetabix farmers have signed up to a protocol, safeguarding quality of supply and committing them to membership of the government's eco-friendly Entry Level Stewardship Scheme.

"Our research found there was a certain lack of awareness about where Weetabix wheat comes from; people didn't realise that 90% came from farms near the mills.

"Now, we can talk to consumers about it being locally sourced, with fewer food miles, and we have 'Weetabix Quality Wheat', which we can use to differentiate ourselves in the market," said Mooney.

The initiative will be flagged prominently on pack with a signpost stating "all grown by our local farmers", showing Weetabix has "set the bar even higher" compared with rivals, said Mooney.

Rival Kellogg's sources 80% per cent of its wheat from the UK, claimed a spokesman: "We have a good record on using British wheat, but sometimes it isn't possible to use British ingredients, in which case we look elsewhere in Europe."

Weetabix sales had experienced a "less constant period" over the summer, but were now up 6% to £107m following the launch of Chocolate Weetabix in July [Nielsen MAT 30 October 2010], said Mooney.

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