2 April 1999

Grain premium blow

WARNINGS that farm-assured grain will not attract a premium have been borne out after a leading multiple retailer refused to pay extra for the UKs first farm-assured flour.

The flour, a new rustic type developed by leading independent miller Heygates, is sold exclusively by Tesco Stores and used in the companys in-store bakeries.

Despite Heygates claiming that it is the first and only 100% farm- assured flour in the UK, farmers receive no more money for the 500t of Hereward, Rialto and Soissons wheat needed each month to produce it, George Mason of Heygates told a recent farmer meeting organised by accountants Grant Thornton.

Not only did Tesco refuse to pay a premium for the flour, but it would not allow Heygates to promote the produce either, he said. "We hoped to put our farm-assured logo on the side of the loaf and use it to educate the public. We werent allowed to.

"Why? Because it endorses what the farmer does. It doesnt endorse what the haulier does, or what the merchant does or what I as a miller do. So they werent prepared to allow us to use it."

However, without quality assurance, markets will be limited, he added. "Those who are ACCS registered will be able to choose to sell their crop anywhere they like. Those who arent will have to find a market wherever they can." That would mean hauling over greater distances to less certaint outlets.

By 2001 the only options for non-assured supplies could be export – or intervention, he believed. "However, European buyers may decide they like the sound of the ACCS, and may also demand grain that is assured."

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