Over the weekend Hovis started to use EU grain. The move was a blow for UK farmers, who are already reeling from the relentless rains that made 2012 the second-wettest year on record.
In a statement, a Premier Foods spokeswoman said: “Premier Foods remains totally committed to British wheat. Premier Foods pioneered the use of quality British red wheat for use in Hovis and we have already committed to British wheat farmers to secure as much high quality British wheat that will be available in 2013.
“It is currently not possible to get sufficient supplies of the right quality wheat to meet our needs. The wheat harvest in 2012 was the worst for more than 35 years and has resulted in significant quality issues.
“To ensure we continue to supply our customers and consumers with the best quality bread possible we have no choice but to supplement our supplies of British wheat with imported wheat. We will use British wheat where possible and are constantly reviewing the wheat sourcing strategy by working in close cooperation with key stakeholders.”
Premier Foods also said that given that the percentage of British wheat may vary from recipe to recipe, it was suspending the use of its 100% British wheat. It confirmed that the Union flag would disappear from its packs.
A spokeswoman added: “Most importantly, Hovis will continue to make quality bread that tastes as good as it has always been. Consumers will not experience any changes to the quality taste or range of Hovis bread. Wherever possible, we prefer to source ingredients, products and services from UK producers and suppliers. In fact, we spend over £1.3 billion annually with around 4,000 suppliers of which 82% is with UK producers and suppliers, equivalent to over £1.0 billion annually.”