John Petre

Weetabix Puts Colleagues & Farmers Centre Stage in 2023 Sustainability Report

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 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. 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.

John Petre, Supply Chain, Procurement & Technical Director at the Weetabix Food Company said: “We know this has been another challenging year for everyone, as cost of living pressures continue to affect many aspects of life. 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.

“The Weetabix Food Company is connected to many different communities, and we have tried to feature some of these in our report. You can see and hear from our sustainability experts, but also farmers in our Growers Group and some of our factory operators.”

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, 4 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.

Under its product responsibility pillar, Weetabix has been reducing the carbon footprint of its packaging. For example, increasing the recycled content of Weetabix On The Go bottles to 51% has reduced their carbon footprint by 8%. Similarly, reducing the thickness of board used to make its cereal cartons has achieved up to 20% footprint reduction across the range.

Weetabix has also reduced the weight of plastics in its drinks bottle by 15%, inner cereal carton bags by 9% and Alpen plastic packs by 4%. By changing configurations in this way since 2020, the company has reduced carbon emissions by 9.2% as a sales weighted average across all the packaging materials used.

The social responsibility pillar of the ‘Change for Even Better’ sustainability strategy drives Weetabix to support communities both within, and connected to, its business.

The health and wellbeing of its 1,100 employees is a priority and Weetabix has taken a number of steps over the past year to strengthen the support it provides to them. For example, the Mental Health First Aiders programme has been expanded with 15 newly trained volunteers joining the network, making the team 41 strong across the company’s four sites.

As part of its work to encourage people to live healthy lives, Weetabix has also continued in its partnership with The English FA and Football Association of Wales. The Weetabix Wildcats and Weetabix Huddle programmes help girls all over England and Wales get active, make new friends and boost their confidence. They now have 64 Huddle providers and 2,071 registered Huddle participants, with over 28,000 young girls registered to play within the Weetabix Wildcats programme.

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 3 million breakfasts to those in need through these partnerships.

John Petre continues: “Our Change for Even Better strategy has guided us again this year, but it’s our people that really make the difference, ensuring that sustainability remains part of our Weetabix DNA. I am pleased to say that our work developing Science Based Targets has continued and we expect to set these before the end of 2023. I am also delighted that we passed the important milestone of making 100% of our packaging recyclable this year.”

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

 

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