Farm assurance, traceability and sustainability are going to become increasingly important in the wheat supply chain, according to Eva Wheeler, head of technical at Allied Bakeries.
Discussing consumer trends at the AHDB Milling Wheat conference, Ms Wheeler said there is an increasing value in farm assurance and that retailers are pushing sustainability.
“We have two projects with two retailers at the moment around sustainability. We were the first to get accredited for soya flour and now wheat is coming to the front. We have had some meetings with our millers and we have looked at Red Tractor and producer stories. Our retail customers are very interested in real sustainability stories that can capture consumer imaginations.”
Ms Wheeler said using 100% UK wheat is important to Allied Bakeries and its partners, but it can be challenging to source based on the weather.
“One advantage of using 100% UK wheat is that it is really important in the transparency of the supply chain and people can see where their food comes from. I think that is going to be more important and it is coming absolutely up there on the agenda.”
Stuart Bradshaw of EB Bradshaw and Sons mill said he also expects product sourcing to come further under the limelight. He said: “The idea of short food chains, knowing where your food comes from and pictures of happy smiling farmers on loaves of bread, those kind of things is one area that will develop still further.”
Dr Simon Penson of ADM Milling added that growers should not fear the supermarkets, but instead work with them.
“I would say it is nothing to be scared of. I dealt with a very large major retailer for 20 years, and 20 years ago they were awful, and now they have changed and certainly most of the retailers we deal with are very sensible and understand that they have got to look after the people who are producing materials for them. Do not be scared, they are not as bad as they used to be.”