Gain insight into grain process, growers urged

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GRAIN growers are invited to take part in a series of ‘Meet the Processor’ events organised by the Home Grown Cereals Authority “to encourage a better insight into what happens to grain beyond the weighbridge”.

Millers, maltsters and exporters around the country are taking part.

Steve Barras, the HGCA’s business improvement manager, said: “Growers will have an opportunity to see first-hand why the strict grain-quality specifications ex-farm are so critically important to grain processing, export markets and end-user manufacturing.”

The HGCA quotes Andrew Blenkiron, manager of the 11,000-acre Euston Estate in Suffolk, saying his variety choices, planting and storage, have all been influenced by visits which have improved his understanding of customers’ requirements.

He said: “It’s simple things like ensuring that all the staff on the farm realise how important it is not to mix varieties going into storage and that they are vigilant about store cleanliness. When you see what it takes for a processor to deal with a consignment of grain with a quality issue, you make very sure that it doesn’t come from your farm.”

David Wright, manager of Wrights flour mill in Enfield, Middlesex, said: “Our customers’ expectation is very high.

“A retailer will order on day one, expect delivery on day two and if we deliver outside a 30-minute allocated slot, the order will be sent back. It’s important growers understand these demands and why it’s so important that we receive their wheat deliveries on time and in spec.”

Mr Barras, of the HGCA, commented: “Whilst on-time and in-spec deliveries from processor to retail exceed 98 per cent, from farm to first processor it can be as low as 68 per cent.

“This represents a substantial waste and cost for both growers and processors.”

First event in Yorkshire will be a tour of E B Bradshaw & Sons, millers of Driffield, on November 15.

The current joint MDs are Stuart and Simon Bradshaw, cousins and descendants of William Bradshaw, who started milling in Northamptonshire in 1790. His grandson managed Bell Mills at Driffield from 1875 and bought it in 1894.

The garden centre opposite the mill sells four-kilo bags of its flour, made largely from Yorkshire wheat, and the rest goes to a range of customers “from bakers living above their shops to blue-chip names in the food industry”.

Stuart Bradshaw said this week: “Many people think wheat is wheat, but it comes in a wide range of varieties, each with different characteristics.

“It is just like varieties of grapes, with qualities and characteristics which can make flours as distinctive as wines. Nowadays, it is particularly important to keep those distinctive attributes right through to the flour, with the move back to variety in bread.”

See panel for other participants in this region in the Meet the Processor programme. The visits are free of charge to all HGCA levy payers. To book go to www.hgca.com/meettheprocessor or call 024 7647 8724.

Hear the experts

Among the maltsters opening their doors are Muntons of Bridlington, on December 16 – big buyers of Yorkshire barley for brewers and distillers.

Plant manager Guy Newsam says they are feeling the competition from the biofuels sector and want to underline their ongoing need for the right grains.

Lincolnshire-based Gleadell, a major trader in grains, oilseeds and pulses, will explain its exporting business – probably at its Immingham depot on November 29 but details have yet to be fixed.