Hovis commits to 100% British wheat

Hovis will go back to using 100% British wheat in its loaves as long as high-quality supplies are plentiful.

The poor 2012 harvest forced the company to switch to imported wheat last January, but the company is now in a position to source entirely from the UK again.

Three loaves will have union flag packaging but no specific sourcing claim, giving Hovis the flexibility to bring in imported wheat if there is another bad harvest.

See also Premier Foods sells majority stake in Hovis, bakeries and flour mills

The company, a part of a joint venture between The Gores Group and Premier Foods since January, buys about 1m tonnes of wheat a year.

Hovis head of wheat procurement Gary Sharkey said the firm was proud to support UK agriculture and build relationships with its dedicated group of growers.

“UK red wheat commands a substantial premium over group one bread-making varieties and this is therefore a substantial investment to ensure our customers consistently receive the highest quality bread possible,” he said.

“When you ask the general housewife about Hovis, it is the front-of-mind brand and seen as historic, healthy and British.

“Wheat provenance speaks for itself with full traceability back to UK farmers. It’s our differentiator from the other two brands [Warburtons and Kingsmill].”

NFU chief arable adviser Guy Gagen said he was pleased with Hovis’ commitment to secure a domestic grain supply.

He said the extreme weather events and political situation in Europe were causing the market to firm, pushing in the opposite direction to the supermarkets’ price-cutting war.

“[Hovis] are not doing it for fun. They must believe there is a good business case for marketing the provenance of their products against the pressures we see externally,” he said.

“It shows confidence in farmers and their produce, not only the volume but also the appropriate quality for making bread.”