There was some inevitability to this week’s news that Hovis bread - with the exception of the Farmers Loaf - would no longer be flying the Union Jack.
Premier Foods’ pledge to produce the brand using only wheat sourced in the UK had been looking fragile for some time, as The Grocer revealed in November. Last year’s British wheat crop was a disaster in quantity and quality, and plantings for 2013 are down by as much as 20%.
“No one is likely to criticise Premier for sourcing some of its wheat from European farmers”
Vince Bamford, fmcg editor
No one - not even those who thought the Hovis procurement policy was misguided in the first place - is likely to criticise the company for its decision to do what so many other bakers do and source some of its wheat from European farmers, for the time being at least.
The NFU has said it understands the need for this week’s decision and applauded Premier’s sourcing policy of recent years.
As do I. A cynic would say the decision to go 100% British originally was marketing-led - though in a competitive market like bread, at least it created a USP - but Premier seems to have a genuine, long-term commitment to Britain’s farmers too. I may be naïve, but I believe Hovis will fly the flag again in the future.