Ethical shoppers guide to Baking Flour

Ethical shoppers guide to Baking Flour


This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

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We're sorry but the score table and Best Buys for this report have been removed because they are out of date.

 

The report includes:

  • which flour companies are involved in biofuels
  • which brands are organic
  • price comparison of the brands
  • which brands are ground by windmills or waterpower

 


Flour Power

Rob Harrison and Arwa Aburawa look at how UK consumers buying flour are slowly changing the faceof agriculture towards a more sustainable future.

In a new age of anxiety over food and fuel shortages the BBC News website recently featured an article on how to grow your own wheat and grind it into flour.(1) And while most of us can't go to these lengths, one question we wanted to explore was the extent to which flour suppliers were involved in the shift to biofuels behind some of these concerns. Do any of the common brands of flour come from the huge agribusinesses accused of diverting crops from food plates to car engines, causing hunger and food riots? Of the brands on the table we found evidence that only one, Allinson, was clearly linked to biofuels projects through its parent company British Sugar.(2)

The companies supplying flour to UK consumers split fairly neatly into four distinct groups:
The super-ethical brands: Glebe Farm, Little Salkeld and Bacheldre offer genuinely sustainable organic products ground with ancient technologies of wind and water power.

The family milling firms: Matthews, Marriages and Shipton Mill are medium sized traditional firms supplying bakeries and consumers with growing organic ranges.

The big flour millers: Premier Foods (new owner of Rank Hovis McDougall) and Allinson have dominant but declining market shares because of their failure to offer organic options.(3)

The supermarket own-brands: Waitrose discloses the manufacturer of its own-brand organic flour and therefore is ranked differently from the other companies on the table.


PRICE COMPARISON

All the companies on the table produce a very wide range of flours. There are spelt flours, gluten-free flours, wholemeal flours, short flours, bread-making flours and many more.
For the price element of this report we concentrated on plain white flour and organic where possible. It is interesting to note that quite a few ethical choices are actually cheaper than the best-selling brands of Homepride and McDougalls.

Brand Average Price per Kg
Sainsbury 24p
Asda 50p
Hovis 57.2p
Morrisons Organic 80p
Allinson 82.4p
Waitrose Organic 83p
Tesco Organic 95p
Doves Farm Organic (Best Buy) 96p
Cotswold Organic 97p
Homepride £1.02
Carrs £1.02
Be-Ro £1.03
McDougalls £1.06
Marriages Organic £1.19
Shipton Mill Organic £1.26
Bacheldre Watermill (Best Buy) £1.32
Glebe Farm Organic (Best Buy) £1.50
Little Salkeld Watermill (Best Buy) £1.63


References

1 World warned on food price spiral 10th March 2008 BBC News website 2 The Ecologist March 2007 3 Mintel Home Baking August 2006 4 www.carrs-milling.com viewed 18/6/08 5 www.dovesfarm.co.uk viewed 18/6/08 6 Office of Fair Trading statement 25/4/2008

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