Both Hovis and Warburtons have announced their intentions to use 100% British wheat in loaves from early 2010, with Hovis stealing a march on its rival by switching the entire range to UK-grown wheat.

While Warburtons said it would launch two “all-British loaves” from March 2010, made using wheat sourced from its network of 320 farmers across the UK, Hovis moved to use 100% British wheat across all its loaves, with the change expected in January.

Hovis has been working on its plan to use 100% British wheat for the past five years, in a multi-million-pound investment to ensure the British wheat used provides the same quality as imported wheat.

Although red wheat is known for its great bread-baking quality, historically it has primarily been grown in Canada. However, there are now 600 British farmers growing red wheat for Hovis, commented the firm.

The all-British Hovis launch will be supported by a fully integrated above- and below-the-line marketing campaign from January 2010.

“Hovis is the only major bread brand to be doing this across the range, making the brand thoroughly British,” said Hovis marketing director Jonathon Goldstone.

Meanwhile, Warburtons’ range will continue to be manufactured using a blend of British and Canadian wheat, “as this guarantees the exacting quality and consistency standards Warburtons demands for its consumers,” commented chairman Jonathan Warburton.

The two new Warburtons loaves – a soft white and a soft brown – have been developed in conjunction with two of its British wheat suppliers Tom Tupper and Ian Waller, and are made using a blend of Hereward and Solstice wheat.

“We’ve wanted to bake a British loaf for a long time and, by working closely with our farmers, we have been able to achieve this and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate farming at its best,” said Warburton.

* Last month, multiple retailer Sainsbury’s announced that it was “on course” to be the first retailer to use 100% British flour in its own-label sliced bread. Having converted the biggest section of its own label bread range in September, it has plans to convert its remaining own label sliced bread ranges, with completed conversion of the entire category expected next year.

It followed the announcement, in July this year, that Sainsbury’s 400 in-store bakery-produced products are now made using 100% British flour, sourced with the help of farming co-operative Camgrain.