The Weetabix Food Co has said the failure of the UK’s crop of ‘white wheat’ – a specialist ingredient used in small quantities - was the key reason it had to change the way it makes Minis.
The supplier, which has stated it is committed to sourcing 100% UK wheat, this week admitted it had been forced to supplement its British supply with a small amount of Continental grain.
Weetabix has been making headlines after The Grocer revealed it had halted production of all Minis lines except its most popular chocolate variant as a result of the poor yield and quality of last year’s UK wheat crop. The company is re-engineering its production line so it can use lower-quality wheat if necessary in future.
“We need the lines to be flexible so that if we get a poorer quality of wheat (from whichever source) we can still produce product of the highest quality”
“Sourcing wheat from outside the UK is not the long-term answer because we are committed to sourcing UK wheat, weather permitting,” said a spokesman for the company. “We are working hard to solve the technical issue through an engineering solution that accommodates more than one type of wheat. We need the lines to be flexible so that if we get a poorer quality of wheat (from whichever source) we can still produce product of the highest quality.”
The company said it was currently sourcing 96% of its wheat from the UK, adding that it would return to 100% sourcing as soon as possible.
“It is only certain specialist wheat such as white wheat where the crop completely failed that necessitated this move,” added the spokesman. “This does not mean the commitment has changed and the amounts we are talking about are just 4% - which, given the circumstances, actually demonstrates our commitment.
“We are very proud of the hard work our teams have been doing in our mills to accommodate different but still largely British wheat and, with 96% still being British, we feel they’ve done an outstanding job.”