Click to contact us or call 02476 353537

Weetabix export drive is good news for Gleadell growers

Farmers belonging to Gleadell’s Weetabix Growers Club could soon be sending more high quality wheat to the Northamptonshire-based cereal manufacturer.

gleadell weetabix

Gleadell – Weetabix at Cereals – L-R Charles Paybody, Duncan McIntyre, Will Paybody, Trevor Gates

Farmers belonging to Gleadell’s Weetabix Growers Club could soon be sending more high quality wheat to the Northamptonshire-based cereal manufacturer.

Weetabix, the UK’s second-largest branded manufacturer of cereals and cereal bars in the UK, is embarking on a major drive to break into the Chinese market. If successful, demand for products such as Weetabix, the UK’s biggest selling breakfast cereal, Alpen, Ready Brek and Weetos could soar, and with it the amount of wheat sourced from some of Gleadell’s top growers.

Speaking at Cereals 2014, Duncan McIntyre, operations director at Weetabix, said the company already exported to 80 countries, but was keen to push further into markets like Russia, India and particularly China.

“We are 60% owned by Bright Foods, one of China’s biggest food groups, which is also extensively involved in retail. This gives us a direct route to the Chinese consumer. Health trends are now mirroring those in the west, so there is huge potential.”

Gleadell is Weetabix’s largest supplier of wheat. Members of the Growers Club, which was established in 2010, have to grow wheat within 50 miles of the Burton Latimer factory, said Gleadell regional manager Trevor Gates.

“Grain has to meet strict quality standards – a minimum specific weight of 72kg/hl, 15% moisture, maximum DON of 500, and no sprouted grains. Growers also have to belong to ELS or HLS schemes, reflecting the company’s aim to support sustainable farming practices with minimal environmental impact.”

Growers could earn useful premiums on Group 3 and 4 wheats, he said. “But there is no room for compromise – we need top quality wheat. For that reason our growers tend to be in the top quartile of farmers.”

Charles Paybody, who grows about 200ha of wheat for Weetabix at Mill Farm, near Maidwell, Northamptonshire, is one such grower. Farming with his brother Jeremy and son Will as RJ Paybody & Sons, he was one of the first members of Gleadell’s Weetabix Growers Club and has been supplying the factory for three decades.

“It is important to grow for a local market,” said Charles. “We take pride in what we produce and it is very satisfying to see our wheat is in demand for a human consumption outlet.”

The farm was just nine miles from the factory, added Will. “Moving grain is a minimum haul. That is good for the pocket and the environment. It also helps logistically – we know when lorries are going to turn up, which benefits both parties.”

Both men are Weetabix fans and will be able to enjoy their favourite breakfast cereal even more after Charles’ wife Sarah entered a competition organised by Gleadell and Weetabix to find the best photograph of a field of wheat being grown for Weetabix last season.

The winning picture showed the farm’s two combines cutting a field of Conqueror positioned either side of a “Proud to grow for Weetabix” sign. “We had about 100 entries but this was a great shot – it really stood out,” said Duncan.

Charles and Will were presented with two framed prints as well as a year’s supply of Weetabix at a presentation on the second day of Cereals. “Between the two of us and with four students over harvest we’ll be eating up to 48 Weetabix a week,” Charles said. “It is very satisfying to see your own wheat go into a product such as this – and this makes the job even more worthwhile!”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * great opportunity to promote your business to our dedicated readership of farmers, landowners, estate managers and associated agricultural professionals.
Contact us today on 02476 353537 and let's work together to drive your business forward.