Estonian flour is being used by British food producers for the first time after a group of entrepreneurs spotted an opportunity to undercut the rocketing price of British wheat.

Six-month-old Estonia Flour Supply said it was supplying milling flour on a trial basis to 16 manufacturers in the UK two of which are "big" household names under an exclusive five-year contract with Estonia's Tartu Mill.

The deal marked the first time Estonian flour had been imported into the UK, said MD of EFS Rob Mullen. Buyers had been impressed by its quality and placed it on a par with that of flour milled from Canadian wheat, the industry's usual preference, he added.

Sourcing flour from Estonia had big advantages for manufacturers, particularly in terms of supply chain and pricing, said Mullen. "If you buy from Canada, you have to consider farmers, agents, shippers, storage. We ship directly into Immingham and deliver direct to customer silos," he said.

The British food industry sources 80% of its milling wheat domestically but prices have rocketed over the past year as farmers have switched their attentions to more lucrative foreign markets. The February 2011 price of a tonne of British milling wheat is set to be £231 up £100 on February 2010 [HGCA].

"I cannot yet say whether we are cheaper (than British or Canadian wheat) but with world wheat shortages and price rises, manufacturers want to have the option of knocking on the door of another supplier," he said.