Weetabix has once again been able to source every grain that goes into the breakfast cereal from within 50 miles of its factory in Burton Latimer, Northhamptonshire.
With temperamental weather conditions during harvest, farmers worried about restricted crop growth and a repeat of last year’s disappointing harvest. However, the Weetabix Growers Group was able to meet the company’s wheat requirements.
The Growers Group is a collective of farmers which was established in 2010 as part of Weetabix’s commitment to source wheat exclusively from farms within a 50-mile radius. Over 350 farmers have participated in the scheme, growing approximately 75,000 tonnes of wheat each year across more than four million acres in fields that protect natural wildlife.
Fay Johnson, partner at Rectory Farm in Leicestershire which supplies wheat to Weetabix through the Growers Group said: “Each year, harvest for farmers is an incredibly pressured time, especially when you rely on something like the weather. After concerns about crops, it’s great to be able to deliver such a good quality harvest for Weetabix and to do it in a sustainable way. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Growers Group, working closely with the company to make sure the very best of British wheat makes it from the field to the breakfast bowl.”
John Petre, head of supply chain and technical at Weetabix said: “Our relationship with local farmers goes back to the beginnings of the company and we’re incredibly proud of the work they do each and every harvest for us. The past year has refocused lots of minds on the importance of buying and eating local to support communities and to reduce food miles. We’re only as good as the wheat we buy, so working with our Growers Group in partnership on sustainability means we can make a bigger impact together than we could have done apart.”
Jonathan Lane, head of grain trading at ADM Agriculture Ltd, added: “After last year’s unusually small harvest return, we’ve returned to more normal production levels this year, with an estimated crop of approx. 15 – 15.5 million tonnes. It’s a later harvest than usual and the wheat is of more variable quality due to the temperamental weather we’ve had this year, but all very usable.
“The solidarity of our relationship and open communication with Weetabix is really important, especially as we enter a period of uncertainty with the upcoming changes in the agriculture policy. This understanding with Weetabix puts us in a strong place and will allow us to develop other opportunities across sustainability and carbon-retention in the future.”
Jonni Henson, a grain trader at Frontier Agriculture Ltd, said: “It’s our role to facilitate the supply chain, working closely with the growers and Weetabix. There have been challenges this season but the flexibility shown by all involved has ensured it’s also been a successful one. Our grower customers appreciate the transparency of the Growers’ Group and the flow of information.
“For example, part of the protocol is to send text or email notifications after each load and at the end of the year, each grower gets a scorecard summarising how their deliveries have performed throughout the year.
“In addition, Weetabix provides a guaranteed premium to all their protocol growers. This transparency and certainty mean the Growers Group is going from strength to strength. We’re looking forward to working on new initiatives such as sustainability; helping Weetabix growers to record and manage their environmental impact better. We’re proud to be part of the team that supplies Weetabix.”