Sainsbury's has become the first chain to achieve full traceability for its fresh own label bread by sourcing wheat for its in-store bakeries from named British farmers.
A multimillion-pound deal with miller Whitworth Bros and farmers in the Camgrain co-operative will enable Sainsbury's to claim its loaves are made with wheat sourced within a 25-mile radius of Linton in Cambridgeshire. The sourcing arrangements apply to white, wholemeal and harvest grain loaves and will account for 55,000 tonnes of wheat each year.
"We're proud to announce this initiative because we're the first supermarket to guarantee our flour is from wheat from UK farmers," said Sainsbury's head of in-store bakeries Sarah MacKenzie.
"The Wellingborough mill is a great location for supplying our depots and good for the carbon footprint of the bread."
The announcement goes hand-in-hand with the launch of the British Flour Development Group, which will bring grain farmers and Sainsbury's buyers face-to- face to discuss concerns and share information. The initiative will also help drive efficiencies into the supply chain, said MacKenzie, adding the British guarantee would cost Sainsbury's millions of pounds per year.
Initially, some 80% of the wheat used in flourmaking will come from Camgrain members, but will rise to 90% in April 2008. The aim is to source all wheat through the co-op by 2009.
"We need to replace some Canadian hard wheat with a British-grown alternative before we switch fully to Camgrain. There shouldn't be any compromise on quality," said Hannah Sibley, a technologist in the bakeries department.
Sainsbury's is considering how to promote the provenance of the bread to consumers in-store.