Premier Foods is to start making Hovis with wheat from Europe, three years after pledging to use only British-grown wheat for the brand.

The company said it remained committed to British farmers, and would continue to use British Red wheat as much as possible, but had been forced to source from the EU following a disastrous wheat harvest in this country last year.

By the end of this month, it will begin using a percentage of imported wheat for Hovis, with the exception of the Farmers Loaf range it launched last year, which will continue to be produced with 100% British wheat. It will be removing the ‘100% British’ flash from the packaging of the rest of its range.

Premier, which had previously stated it was reviewing its procurement strategies, described the 2012 wheat harvest as the worst for more than 35 years. “The company is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the high quality bread standards that it requires,” it said in a statement.

Yield from the 2012 harvest was down 8% on the five-year average, while the National Association for British & Irish Millers said the flour content of the wheat had been the lowest since the 1960s.

Premier said it did not know when it would be able to return to using 100% British wheat, warning that the wet weather meant wheat plantings for 2013 were already down.