Warburtons secures new wheat supply contracts with 300 UK farmers

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

Warburtons is supplied by farmers in the UK and Canada
Warburtons is supplied by farmers in the UK and Canada
Warburtons, the UK’s largest bakery brand, has extended its wheat growing contracts with more than 300 British farmers for a further five years. 

The business, based in Bolton in the north of England, said the contracts will contribute about 40% of its wheat. Warburtons has been contracting with 400 farmers in Canada and 300 farmers in the UK for more than 15 years, and said this continuity helped it achieve “outstanding quality​”.

The baker added sustainability was a priority for its farmers, with key areas of focus including healthy soil, good water stewardship and supporting biodiversity. It said 85% of its UK-sourced wheat is grown under UK environmental farming schemes designed to “optimise quality and efficiency, farm and environmental practice, and information gathering​”.

Family business

The UK contracts are managed through British grain co-operative Openfield, which has worked with Warburtons for almost 20 years.

Established in a grocery shop in Bolton in 1876 by Thomas and Ellen Warburton, the business is run by the fifth generation of Warburton family.

As a family business, we are able to take decisions for the long term, and it is this approach that has been key to maintaining our business success over the last 140 years​,” said executive director Brett Warburton. “We believe that for our business to grow we need to work in partnership, and that means working with our farmers, and partners like Openfield, to ensure we deliver what the business needs – but in the right way​.”

Warburtons muppets 1_0001

News of the new contracts comes in the week Warburtons’ big-budget advertising  collaboration with The Muppet Show was found to be the most successful UK Christmas TV ad in research carried out by consultants Millward Brown.

The £25m ($38m) campaign, launched last month, features Warburtons chairman Jonathan Warburton and a huge cast of Muppet characters including Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear. It was created to support the recently launched Warburtons Giant Crumpet, which is 130 mm wide versus the 90 mm of a standard version.

Millward Brown evaluated the brand-building effectiveness of 18 of this year’s major Christmas advertising campaigns through a nationally representative survey of 500 UK adults, with respondents scoring each on 12 factors such as branding, involvement, enjoyment, and relevant information. The Giant Crumpet Show was the best all-rounder, scoring highest on factors including involvement, branding and persuasion.

Warburtons muppets 3_0001

Cut through festive noise

Warburtons’ success shows you don’t have to make people cry to win their hearts, or shower them with Christmas to make an impact​,” said Millward Brown marketing head Amanda Phillips. “The ad is highly branded and humorous, and cuts through the festive noise to build emotional loyalty and motivate people to buy. It gets viewers feeling good, and excited about the new product. The UK public loves The Muppets and loves crumpets, and together they’re a winning formula​."

Warburtons marketing director Mark Simester said being singled out was “a huge honour​”.

While we take our baking seriously, we don't like to take ourselves too seriously as a brand, and The Muppets really reflect Warburtons' sense of fun and family​,” he added. “The impact of the campaign so far has surpassed our expectations​.”

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