Sourcing key materials

Where we can, we source from UK suppliers and farmers. We spend more than £500 million on UK suppliers, many of which are small and medium sized businesses. Around 99% of the sugar, 95% of the apples and 81% of the milk and dairy products we buy come from British farmers. This gives us confidence in the provenance and sustainability of our key ingredients.

Applying high standards

Whatever we buy, it’s important to us to understand its impact on the environment, animal welfare and farmers and producers. Where it makes sense, we look for ingredients certified to meet recognised standards whether this be palm oil from producers that meet the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) criteria, egg products that are certified from cage-free hens or cardboard boxes that meet the Forestry Stewardship Council requirements. For more information about some of the specific initiatives we’ve undertaken, please refer to the case studies below.

Improving animal welfare outcomes

At Premier Foods, we use animal based ingredients such as milk, eggs, meat and fish in a range of products. These ingredients are sourced in a number of ways, namely:

  • Direct purchase of the primary raw material (e.g. milk, egg, dairy powder)
  • Indirect purchase as a result of the primary raw material forming a component of a larger ingredient system (e.g. an animal derivative being used in a flavour or paste system)
  • As a direct or indirect ingredient by a third party, co-manufacturer 

We believe that all animals should be treated responsibly and with dignity and therefore expect our suppliers of animal based products and ingredients to meet high standards of animal welfare. 

In 2015, we strengthened our Animal Welfare Policy with a view to working with our suppliers to drive even higher animal welfare outcomes. Our revised policy has been communicated to all relevant suppliers, and we’ve gathered data to assess each supplier’s current approach to animal welfare and the standards they apply. 

From this analysis, we’ve agreed to prioritise the ingredients where we can exert the most influence and have the most impact. However, given the complexity our supply chain, we recognise that achieving our goals will take time. We therefore plan to work progressively with our suppliers towards meeting our welfare requirements by 2025.    

Collaborating with our milk suppliers

Milk and dairy ingredients are amongst the most important materials we buy. We currently use around 62 million litres of fresh milk, 1,500 tonnes of butter, 2,800 tonnes of milk powder and a range of other dairy ingredients such as cream, yogurt, condensed milk and whey in a wide range of products from Ambrosia rice pudding to Mr Kipling cakes to Sharwoods and Homepride cooking sauces. Currently, 73% of all the milk and dairy ingredients we buy are sourced from British suppliers and farmers. 

All the milk used in the dairy products we buy from UK suppliers comes from farms accredited to the Red Tractor Dairy Assurance Scheme. At a minimum, this means that animals have adequate space, safe and comfortable housing or shelter as well as unlimited access to fresh, clean drinking water and are appropriately nutritious meals. All farmers who keep livestock must keep a written health plan and medicine records so that they can monitor the health of their animals and prevent them from becoming unwell. 

To help drive standards, we are now working with our liquid milk suppliers to establish monitoring and evaluation systems to improve welfare outcomes further. As we make progress, we will extend our focus to other dairy suppliers.

Committed to cage-free eggs

We currently buy around 1,100 tonnes of egg products a year. In 2012, we made a commitment to source only cage free eggs for our entire business by 2017, and we were awarded a Good Egg award from Compassion in World Farming as a result. 

All of our suppliers meet the the high standards set by KAT (Association for Controlled Alternative Animal Husbandry), one of the leading European certification for hen rearing systems.  These standards limit the number of hens that can be kept in a barn and per square metre, require natural litter, sufficient perching area and nesting space. The availability of natural light must also be guaranteed. Our suppliers are inspected by KAT to maintain their certification, and we also audit our suppliers to check that high standards of quality and welfare are achieved. 

Addressing smaller ingredient groups: meat and fish

We currently use only a small amount of meat based extracts and ingredients mainly for our flavourings and seasonings products and some cooking sauce brands, and as such, we have limited influence across our supplier base. Where possible, however, we will work with them to ensure our high standards are met.  

Whilst minimal, all of the fish products we use (anchovy and coalfish) is wild caught.  Three quarters of the fish we buy comes from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries. We aim to increase this percentage in 2017 and have a goal of achieving 100% MSC accredited fish products by 2025 in line with our policy goals.

Case Study: Only the finest apples from UK orchards

Our Mr. Kipling Apple Pies are the UK’s favourite, but why do they taste so exceedingly good?
Mr-Kipling-Bramley-Apple-Pies.pngWell, Mr. Kipling uses only fine tasting Bramley apples grown in UK orchards in Kent, Cambridgeshire and Northern Ireland. Once cooked, the Bramley becomes golden and fluffy, making it the ideal apple variety for pies.
The first 'Bramley' tree grew in a cottage garden in Nottinghamshire owned by Matthew Bramley and in 1856, a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apples. Mr Bramley agreed but insisted the apples should bear his name…
Each year, Mr. Kipling buys total of 800 tonnes of Bramley apples to bake his much loved apple pies.

Case study: Achieving our palm oil commitment one year early

While we buy a relatively small amount of palm oil we’re concerned that what we do buy is from certified sources that avoid damaging the tropical rainforest and biodiversity of South East Asia. As a result, we made a commitment in 2012 to buy only Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified palm oil by the end of 2015.

With the help of our suppliers we achieved our ambition one year early and now all of the palm oil we use is from Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified sources using the mass balance supply chain model. 

In addition, EXOVA BMTRADA, the leading independent certification body, has audited all our manufacturing sites against the RSPO Supply Chain Certification system which provides independent assurance that the palm oil we use is from RSPO certified sources. Our RSPO certificate number is BMT-RSPO-000038.

The WWF recently recognised this significant achievement in their 2016 palm oil buyers scorecard, the results of which can be found here.

Case study: Packaging from sustainable forests

It’s a minimum requirement that all the paper and carton-board packaging we use is compliant with the EU Timber Regulation which makes it a crime to place illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market. But we go further.


Wherever possible, we aim to use paper and board packaging from certified sustainably managed forest resources. To date, 100% of our corrugated packaging is from Forestry Stewardship Council 
(FSC) certified sources. And by the end of 2015, Ambrosia custard will be packaged in an FSC certified combi-block pack.  


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