Here at Weetabix, we’re proud of our heritage as a responsible business that has nourished the nation since 1932. A big part of this is our commitment to our Growers Group who help us to source all wheat for Weetabix Original from within 50 miles of our Burton Latimer mill.
Like many food manufacturers we’ve experienced a very busy few months and we’ve seen high demand for our breakfast products during lockdown. We’ve been working closely with our farming partners during Covid-19, supporting their working practices to ensure they can continue to safely deliver food to the nation. With the harvest upon us, it’s a really important time for the nation’s favourite cereal.
The Weetabix Growers Group is a collective of approved local farmers who have volunteered to grow, harvest and store the finest quality wheat for Weetabix. Together, they help us work to the Weetabix Wheat Protocol.
First established in 2010, our Wheat Protocol guides us in sourcing Weetabix wheat each year from farms located within a 50-mile radius of our mills in Northamptonshire. It pushes beyond the requirements of Red Tractor Assurance and Entry Level Environmental Stewardship schemes to further reduce food miles and fertiliser usage.
Our Wheat Protocol
Working to the protocol brings many benefits; boosting the ability of local farmers to invest in higher standards and providing great tasting wheat for British breakfast bowls across the country. During the last decade:
- over 350 local farmers have participated in the scheme
- growing approximately 75,000 metric tonnes of wheat each year across more than 4 million acres
- That’s equivalent to almost 3,000 football pitches
Working together with our Weetabix Growers Group ensures that:
- All farmers meet Red Tractor standards for fertiliser use
- There is no nitrogen application after growth stage 47
- We work to higher than or entry level environmental stewardship
Working in partnership with our farmers
Hitesh Bhatia, Strategic Sourcing Manager at Weetabix, said: “We’re very proud to use the high-quality wheat from local farmers within 50 miles of our site in every bowl of Weetabix, supporting the British farming industry.
During the last few months, we’ve have been working closely with our group of circa 350 approved growers to ensure they are able to safely maintain their operations. Responsible production is a core focus for us, and our farming community is a core foundation of our sustainability commitments.
“Working with our Growers Group allows us to reduce food miles and fertiliser usage, as well as giving consumers consistent quality and complete transparency of where their food has come from.”
Jonni Henson, Grain Trader at Frontier Agriculture adds: “Our role is to bring the supply chain together, helping farmers to take an integrated approach to crop production for supply chains.
We certainly saw a knock-on effect with extremely high demand for grain throughout March. Weetabix is a truly cooperative partner, and we already had a streamlined process and good lines of communication in place ahead of the pandemic.
The benefit of this was it ensured farmers, merchants, hauliers and end consumer were all prepared to provide flexibility; vital at a time like this. This flexible, open relationship means that when Weetabix requires extra wheat, which we’re expecting in the coming months, the growers we work with are ready to meet that demand.
“Our Growers Group farmers often comment that they are proud to buy the iconic ‘yellow box’ Weetabix instore, knowing their involvement from the ‘grain to bowl’ has been a truly collaborative one. Equally, Frontier takes a sense of pride in its partnership with iconic brands like Weetabix.”
Jonathan Lane, Head of Grain Trading at ADM Agriculture Ltd, comments: “We work as the link between Weetabix and the farming suppliers who make up the Growers Group, ensuring that Weetabix receive the right quality wheat in a responsible way. While we have faced some challenges from a logistical and delivery perspective as a result of Covid-19, our farming network is still working as normal, so we’re not expecting any demand issues looking ahead.
“The team at Weetabix is one of the few food manufacturers that take the time to directly engage with its farmers, helping them to produce high-quality wheat in a sustainable way for the local environment and also giving back value to farmers via its wheat protocol initiatives. The Wheat Protocol also supports on environmental stewardship initiatives, such as planting hedgerows and wider field margins to sustain local wildlife.”
Looking to the future
Working with our local farmers is part of Weetabix’s wider commitment to continuous improvement in sustainability to ensure we’re meeting the highest sustainability standards in the industry.
The last few months has highlighted the importance of British agriculture to a wider audience and we’ll continue to collaborate with our farmers to ensure we can enjoy successful harvests for years to come.
Jonni Henson concludes: “The growers we work with are looking for transparency and better understanding of what’s required by the end consumer and Weetabix excels at communicating this. By working together, we will ensure the nation can continue to enjoy its favourite breakfast.”
We would like to thank all of our people, our local farmers and our supply and retail partners who have all been working together to ensure we can feed the nation.