Warburton’s drops grain co-op Openfield as its UK supplier

The breadmaker will switch to UK firm Frontier from July next year

Baking firm Warburtons is to transfer its wheat supply deal from farmer-owned Openfield co-op to private company Frontier Agriculture.

Lincolnshire-based Openfield – the UK’s only national grain marketing co-op, with a turnover of £650m – was Warburton’s supplier for more than 20 years and last year supplied more than 155,000 tonnes.

Frontier Agriculture – jointly owned by Associated British Foods and Cargill plc – is also based in Lincolnshire. It has a market share of 20% and an annual turnover of more than £1.5bn.

Warburtons told producers the switch would be effective from August 2022 and is being made to support changes to its milling supply chain. Openfields’ last crop for the company will be harvested next year. Around 260 growers will be affected by the change.

Openfield said it was disappointed by the move but and had not been asked to take part in Warburton’s review of its supply chain. But it respected the breadmaker’s decision to “manage contractual agreements to suit their business needs”.

The co-op’s member services director Richard Jenner said: “There are two full seasons ahead before these changes come into effect, and together Warburtons and Openfield remain committed to execute and manage all areas of the existing contract in a professional manner.”

Meanwhile, Warburton’s is to work with the Co-op Group as part of the retailer’s new deal with Hull-based baking firm Jackson’s.

Jackson’s will bake the Group’s own-brand bread from next spring; Warburtons’ role will be to handle the daily deliveries through its logistic network and distribution hubs.

  • This article was amended on 21 July to correct the number of Openfield farmers affected and the amount of grain supplied to Warburton’s.