Warburtons and UK grain cooperative Openfield have created two new roles to drive standards and connections throughout their joint supply chain in a volatile and challenging wheat market.
The two new business roles are a technical manager to oversee grower protocols and a commercial manager to promote better working relationships between growers, grain firms and Warburtons.
The move forms part of a wider agreement between Openfield and Warburtons to drive commercial advantages through more integration and builds on a long-standing relationship between the two firms.
Bob Beard, director of purchasing at Warburtons, said this move signals the “beginning of a new era in supply chain relationships”.
A tough year for UK wheat
“The challenges faced by growers, traders and end users this year demonstrates the need for all parties to work more closely together; in terms of quality and supply, this is the worst harvest for a generation,” Beard said.
“By developing the agronomy practices followed on farm and refining operations in the production process we aim to create a more durable supply chain capable of withstanding the pressures of a competitive market and demonstrating regard for consumer concern for the environment,” he said.
Premier Foods was among the bread companies hit by the tough UK harvest this year. It noted in its interim management statement this week that supply chain efficiencies had been impacted by the lower quality harvest.
Russell Lake, taking on the position of dedicated commercial manager, said that Warburtons has managed to deliver a degree of certainty in a highly volatile market over the last five years, but a lot more can be done.
“We want to make the most of Warburtons’ willingness to support Britain’s farmers by expanding the contract and also in bringing all parties closer together through promoting dialogue and the exchange of ideas,” Lake said.
Tudor Dawkins, taking on the role of technical manager, said that technology will drive industry understanding of wheat further and investments in new techniques will benefit growers and end users.