United Biscuits and ADM Milling are working together on an innovative new project, involving every link of the wheat supply chain, to improve stocks of soft milling wheat for biscuits.

ADM Milling is establishing ’buy-back’ contracts with farmers to grow commercial quantities of a new wheat variety called Torch for the 2012 harvest. This will be used to make flour for well-known UB brands, including McVitie’s, Carrs and Jacob’s.

The move follows concerns about a big fall in Group 3 plantings in the UK as farmers switched to higher-yielding feed wheat. Group 3 wheat accounted for about a third of the UK harvest in 2007, but just 11% of the crop in 2010, according to the HGCA.

Developed by seed company RAGT, Torch is a Group 3 winter wheat with ’candidate’ status for the 2011/12 Recommended List. Merchants ADM Direct and Frontier Agriculture were selected to provide buy-back contracts for the volumes of Torch required by UB, offering farmers guaranteed premiums for specified crops.

"The Torch buy-back contract, supported by UB, confirms that wheat variety development is vital to providing end users with a point of differentiation in flour performance," said Mark Ringrose, trading manager at ADM Milling. "Growers have a chance to produce a high-yielding crop with a buy-back option to supply a major UK food manufacturer."