Premier pulls plug on 100% British wheat pledge

by Eric Schroeder
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LONDON — Premier Foods is being forced to break its “U.K.-wheat only” pledge following the worst U.K. wheat harvest in more than 35 years, the company said today.

Despite noting it remains “totally committed to British wheat,” the maker of Hovis bread said it will start using additional grain from the European Union this weekend and is expecting to introduce the grain across its Hovis range by the end of January with the exception of the Farmers Loaf range, where the company will retain its flour milled from 100% British wheat. Hovis launched the British Farmers’ Loaf in April 2012 and has supported the brand’s launch with a £3.5 million marketing program. A major part of the marketing program has been the fact the bread is made from 100% British wheat.

Hovis introduced its 100% British wheat pledge in 2010 and has supported U.K. producers, using farmers to grow high quality British red wheat exclusively for the group.

But Premier said the poor harvest in 2012 left it with “no option.”

“With the 2012 U.K. wheat harvest being the worst for more than 35 years, the company is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the high quality bread standards that it requires,” Premier Foods said. “Therefore, it has been put in a challenging position and has had no option other than to use a percentage of imported wheat from the E.U.”

Premier plans to remove the “100 British wheat” pledge from its packaging.
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