There is a significant opportunity for the cereals sector to exploit increasing demand for regional food, but farmers and processors must take the lead in pushing new ideas forward, a new study has concluded.

The Provenance Report conducted for the HGCA by Bidwells Agribusiness surveyed groups of urban and rural shoppers in four parts of the UK and found the majority still had a strong desire to buy local food products, despite the credit crunch, although many did not associate provenance with cereal-based products. Until now provenance as a marketing tool had largely been restricted to the fresh meat, dairy and fresh produce sectors.

But the report identified a number of big opportunities for using provenance to differentiate cereal products, particularly in the baking, malting barley and rapeseed oil categories (see below).

“There is a lack of realisation of what opportunities there are, but consumers are ready to accept new products if they’re supported by the right messaging, “Bidwells partner Richard Walters said. “And, it’s not just about niche products; large-scale mainstream markets can also benefit.”

HGCA market development project executive Rachael Arding added: “Everybody should be driving this forward, but there is a particular opportunity for farmers to work with others in the supply chain to see what they could be doing.

barley in hands“The major retailers have already seen the potential of provenance and they will be open to new ideas. This research is a good starting point to show there is an opportunity in the cereals sector, and we’ll be working with processors to get the message across.”

One example of a business that had recently exploited the provenance message was Molson Coors Brewing Company. Last September it launched a multi-million pound advertising campaign for its Carling lager and used the headline “Made with 100% British Barley” to promote the brand. Sainsbury’s in-store bakeries have also promoted the fact they only use British wheat and Morrisons are understood to be working on a similar scheme.

“The key is to understand which consumers to target and how to go about it,” Mr Walters said. The report highlighted four recurring provenance themes that consumers considered important:
1. Supporting the local community e.g. buying local, buying British, low food miles
2. How food has been produced e.g. natural ingredients, wholesome, healthy image, production technique
3. Where food has come from e.g. named producer, assured supply chain, heritage image
4. Environmental issues e.g. organic, welfare standards, chemical use, conservation, wildlife
 
Opportunities for provenance in different cereal sectors
Safewaybread2Bread

• To underline health benefits and ‘wholesome’ image
• Regions can ‘stake a claim’ for bread production and origin
• Mainstream outlets can introduce regional specialities
• Take local bakery ethos to mainstream brands e.g. handmade, ‘bakers best’ etc

Breakfast cereals
• Emphasise natural ingredients and wholesome origins
• Use provenance to make parents feel better about the products they buy for their children
• Remind consumers of brand origins

Cereal bars
• Underline health benefits
• Target bars to school lunch boxes, incorporating natural packaging, smaller pack sizes

Biscuits
• Use provenance to distinguish between premium/ luxury biscuits and everyday brands
• Challenge the image of biscuits being a treat that’s ‘bad for me’

Flour
• Emphasis the origins of flour
• Inform shoppers through packs and include recipe ideas
• Use provenance to differentiate products

Rapeseed oil
• Much oil already produced by small-scale farm diversification, so has natural provenance selling point
• Give health benefits more prominence and link to natural origins of the product
• Review pack size and encourage trial purchases

Oats
• Already has strong healthy image – further promote health and quality
• Potential for oats in premium lines/ brands
• Potential for others to build on Scottish oats image