The Weetabix Food Company has published its 2023 Sustainability Report, sharing updates on progress against its “Change for Even Better” strategy. For the first time the report features a new initiative to introduce consumers to some of the real British farmers growing Weetabix wheat.
In October, the company changed the slogan on its Weetabix Original boxes from “Britain’s favourite cereal” to ‘Grown from 100% British Wheat’ sourced within a 50-mile radius of its Northamptonshire factory. This was inspired by consumer testing that showed choosing British grown wheat is a key factor driving many to purchase Weetabix.
On the back of packs, Weetabix is now profiling some of its Growers Group farmers. Consumers can scan a QR code to learn more about the journey their cereal makes from field to spoon, via an easily accessible and interactive traceability microsite. By refreshing its packaging in this way, the company is seeking to make consumers more aware that buying Weetabix is a great way to support British farming and sustainable wheat production.
“We know this has been another challenging year for everyone, as cost of living pressures continue to affect many aspects of life,” said John Petre, Supply Chain, Procurement & Technical Director at the Weetabix Food Company. “But we also know progress on sustainability remains important to all our stakeholders, from colleagues and farmers through to consumers and local communities. This is why we are focused on providing tasty and nutritious products that help nourish the nation in a sustainable way.”
Sourcing responsibility is one of the four key pillars under the “Change for Even Better” strategy. Weetabix is committed to helping its farmers on their journey to producing wheat with a lower carbon footprint while enhancing soil quality, improving crop resilience and managing the risks presented by the uncertain environment in which they are working.
That is why it established the Weetabix Growers Group in 2010, a collective of environmentally aware farmers who are trusted to grow, harvest, store and deliver its wheat. Over the past year, four million acres of British countryside have been farmed by the Growers Group to produce 75,000 tonnes of Weetabix wheat.
Over the past year, Weetabix has been working with some of those farmers to repeat the Carbon Footprint study it undertook in 2022 to capture baseline data to help track progress on its roadmap to measure and reduce carbon emissions, with the ultimate aim of producing net zero wheat.
Weetabix has also been working with a small pioneering group of farmers to evaluate new carbon reduction technologies, including regenerative agriculture, precision nitrogen applications and soil assessments. The group is focused on optimising the amount of nitrogen fertiliser applied to wheat and assessing how carbon can be absorbed rather than released through their farming methods, a process known as sequestration. These two areas present the biggest opportunity for net greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Reducing nitrogen application also helps improve water quality and biodiversity.
After achieving the milestone of making 100 per cent of its packaging widely recyclable earlier this year, Weetabix has set its sights on reducing the carbon footprint of its packaging. For example, increasing the recycled content of Weetabix On The Go bottles to 51 per cent has reduced their carbon footprint by eight per cent. Similarly, reducing the thickness of board used to make its cereal cartons has achieved up to 20 per cent footprint reduction across the range.
Weetabix has also reduced the weight of plastics in its drinks bottle by 15 per cent, inner cereal carton bags by nine per cent and Alpen plastic packs by four per cent. By changing configurations in this way since 2020, the company has reduced carbon emissions by 9.2 per cent as a sales weighted average across all the packaging materials used.
As cost of living pressures continue to make life challenging for many families across the UK, Weetabix remains committed to supporting those who face hardship and food poverty through its work with Grocery Aid, Magic Breakfast and FareShare. In 2023, it donated over three million breakfasts to those in need through these partnerships. To view and download the digitally enabled 2023 Weetabix Sustainability Report, blending conventional pictures and words with specially created films and animations, visit weetabixfoodcompany.co.uk/sustainabilityreport2023/.