Organic wheat supply chain feasibility project

Organic wheat supply chain feasibility project

Name of organisation/business: 
Breadshare
Funding: 
Scottish Borders LEADER (£12,839) and Breadshare
Scottish Rural Development Programme priority: 
Enhancing the rural economy
 

Location

Lamancha
West Linton
EH45 7BB
        
Contact details: 
Geoffrey Crowe Email: geoffcrowe@breadshare.co.uk

What are the aims of the project?

Breadshare is a non-profit-distributing company based in Lamancha in the Scottish Borders.

The overall objective of this Breadshare project was to look at the feasibility of a local supply chain for organic flour in the Scottish Borders. The project focused on four key areas:

  • What was the feasibility for growers in the region to produce organic milling wheat
  • Quantify the latent demand for organic wheat flour in the Borders and in Scotland generally
  • Brand development and market testing of an organic Scottish flour product
  • Develop a business model for production, marketing and selling locally produced organic flour

How did your project achieve these aims?

This Breadshare project looked at wheat production in the Borders, East Lothian, Aberdeenshire and Fife. The local demand was assessed against the Edinburgh and surrounding areas and the Scottish Borders.

As a result of the project, Breadshare has generated a large amount of interest in locally grown, baked and delivered bread and flour and local supply chains in general. In particular, we identified a need for a local mill as a key element in establishing a local supply chain.

An immediate benefit from the project is we have been able to negotiate a price for supply of flour direct from a major wholesaler/distributor to Breadshare and our associated community bakeries in Scotland.

Who’s involved?

The project was conducted by a part-time Supply Chain Coordinator position and part-time Project Manager.

How was the project funded?

The project ran from February – December 2013 and was jointly funded by Scottish Borders LEADER and Breadshare.

Where did you go for help and advice?

The project was guided by the Breadshare board which provided help and advice in their capacity as the project’s steering committee. The project also established an advisory committee with representation from growers, breadmakers, wholesalers and distributors, seed merchants and business experts. More broadly we also consulted with Scottish wheat growers in the Borders, East Lothian, Fife and Aberdeenshire, seed merchants Dods of Haddington seed suppliers, Golspie Mill in Sutherland, and Greencity Wholefoods wholesaler/distributors.

We also sought comments from Breadshare’s community of members and newsletter subscribers as well as the general public at market stalls.

Finally, the project sought expert advice from Borders Business Gateway and Scottish Border LEADER from time to time.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Whilst the key deliverable for the project was the feasibility report into establishing an organic local wheat supply chain, we were most pleased with our packs of organic flour that were used for market trials in stores and at markets.

You can find the Feasibility Report on the Scottish Borders LEADER website.

And the biggest challenge?

Finding the time to meet with all stakeholders. This project had a wide range of contributors and interested parties: from producers, grain merchants, millers, logistics, wholesalers, bakers and retail customers.

Any tips for those setting up a similar project?

  • Keep focused on the aims and remember you can’t do everything at once
  • Ensure the project steering committee is kept appraised on progress and issues
  • Plan cash flows around quarterly claims cycle
  • Ensure there is a dedicated a project manager on top of any other project resources

What's next for your project?

The feasibility report contained a recommendation that a milling operation is the key to developing a local supply chain for organic flour. Breadshare would like to establish a mill in the Borders for this purpose. To this end, one of our Directors has purchased a stone ground mill to prove the concept of micro-milling as a viable business model in the Scottish Borders. In addition, Breadshare has formed a close relationship with Mungoswells Milling in East Lothian and regularly uses locally grown and milled flour for baking.

Finally, we have begun discussions with organic growers to encourage them to plant grain that could be used in micro-milling businesses.