British provenance claims may help bread brands

The decision by Warburtons and Hovis to switch to 100% British wheat could prove to be a wise move if communicated well to consumers, say branding experts.


Hovis has announced that it will use locally produced wheat for its entire range, while Warburtons revealed that it will launch two new loaves made entirely from British-farmed wheat – a soft white and a soft brown – next spring.

Chris Allinson, project director for brands at brand consultancy Added Value, describes the move as “sensible”, adding “provenance and ‘local’ are qualities that resonate with many, particularly middle class, consumers.

However, he adds both face a challenge in expressing “Britishness” in a way that is relevant to their core market and which differentiates them from each other and other competitors.

Jessica Bower, project director at brand development firm Sundance, says using sourcing as part of a brand’s positioning could work if the benefits are appropriately communicated. She said if the sourcing is communicated as supporting British farmers, then it could work, but if communications focus on food miles then that is something very different.

Hovis says its move is about “backing British farmers”, while Warburtons claims its move is a “celebration of British farming”.

The two have been increasing their marketing efforts in the past 12 months in a battle for market share. Warburtons recently appointed RKCR/Y&R to handle its advertising, while Hovis owner, Premier Foods, has seen an uplift in sales this year which it attributes in part to its “Go on lad” heritage ad and new packaging.

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