Premier Foods will begin using EU-sourced wheat in its Hovis packaged breads in a bid to maintain quality following a poor UK harvest.
The firm will discontinue its ‘100% British wheat’ pledge across the range, except for its Farmers Loaf, and introduce imported wheat into the EU into its loaves.
Changes will be introduced by the end of January.
“Following the worst UK drought in more than 35 years, it has meant that the company is not currently able to acquire the right levels of high quality British wheat,” a Premier spokesperson told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“Quality and taste is of paramount importance for the business and the primary concern is sourcing the best quality wheat to make bread that tastes as good as it always has been,” they said.
The spokesperson added that until now the Hovis brand has had sufficient wheat reserves to produce high quality bread but “it is currently not possible to get sufficient supplies of the right quality wheat to meet requirements”.
As it heads into 2013 it will cut British wheat purchases by around one-third to 660,000 tonnes from one million.
“The company will continue to source as much British wheat as possible and continue to work closely with local suppliers. The level of wheat that is sourced from the EU will vary from time to time,” the spokesperson said.
A shift set to hurt the British brand?
Premier said this move should not hurt Hovis given that it has been an iconic British brand for over 125 years and the commitment to British wheat was only introduced three years ago.
“Premier Foods pioneered the use of British Red wheat in the UK and products like Hovis Farmer’s Loaf have helped to differentiate the brand from within the category. Hovis enjoys very strong consumer support and high consumer ratings as the most British bread brand, quality and taste, so it has been important to the brand,” the spokesperson said.
The firm said it remains committed to British wheat where possible and will continue to work closely with local suppliers.