Hovis has abandoned its 100% British wheat pledge after the UK’s poor harvest left the company with “no choice” but to import from the EU.

The bread brand said around a third of the wheat used in Hovis bread will be imported from the EU but it will still use around 660,000t of British wheat.

It had “not been an easy decision to make”, according to a spokeswoman.

“From our perspective we’ve spent a lot of time working with agriculture to develop a commitment to British wheat and that still remains.”

However, the company could not confirm how long it would use imported wheat for.

Owner Premier Foods will be introducing imported wheat across the Hovis range by the end of January with the exception of the Farmers Loaf range where it will be retaining flour milled from 100% British wheat, said a statement.

The NFU said it was sympathetic to the company’s position after excessive rainfall led to harvest being “the worst in living memory” for many members.

“This directly impacted availability of high-quality wheat from UK farmers and we understand the need for Hovis to provide its customers with consistently high-quality bread and therefore source wheat from overseas to supplement the UK shortage,” said Andrew Watts, NFU arable crops committee chairman.

“We, the NFU, applaud the decision from Hovis to this sourcing policy over the past five years and endorse its commitment, quality-dependent, to increase UK inclusion from harvest 2013.”

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