'Tireless' Northamptonshire farmers grow every grain of wheat for every single Weetabix within 50 miles of Burton Latimer

The breakfast company has paid tribute to the incredible work of the local rural community

By Kate Cronin
Saturday, 21st August 2021, 7:36 am
Fay Johnson, partner at Rectory Farm in Leicestershire, with her dad and son.

One of Britain's best-loved breakfast cereal companies is celebrating fulfilling its commitment the sourcing every grain of its Weetabix wheat from within 50 miles of its factory in Burton Latimer.

Temperamental weather conditions this summer have meant that there were worries amongst farmers about a restricted crop growth and a repeat of last year’s disappointing harvest.

But thanks to the tireless work of farmers in Weetabix’s Growers Group based in Northamptonshire, this year’s harvest will once again provide the highest quality British wheat for the nation’s favourite cereal.

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There had been fears for this year's crop but, although it has been late, it is still of good quality

The Growers Group is a collective of farmers who are proud to grow the best quality wheat for Weetabix. It was established in 2010 as part of the company’s commitment to source the wheat for Weetabix exclusively from farms within a 50-mile radius of its mills.

More than 350 local farmers have participated in the scheme, growing approximately 75,000 metric tonnes of wheat each year across more than four million acres, equivalent to almost 3,000 football pitches, in fields that protect natural wildlife.

Since it began in 1932, the Weetabix Food Company has been rooted in sustainable practices. The Growers Group has been a key part of the company’s sustainable sourcing policy and is made up of environmentally aware farmers who Weetabix trust to grow, harvest, store and deliver the finest quality wheat. The Group helps to keep food miles low and aims to establish sustainable farming practices too.

Weetabix has produced cereal from its Burton Latimer factory in Northamptonshire for nearly 90 years.

Weetabix has been made in Burton Latimer for 90 years

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.

Farmer Fay Johnson

“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, 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 means 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.”