Rothmasted developed wheat lines to be used in consumer focused project

  • 25
  • APR
  • 2022

A new project will work with the food industry to develop and market high fibre white bread, using wheat developed by Rothamsted specifically for the UK’s climate.

The interdisciplinary project team is led by the University of Reading, who will look at the supply chain for high fibre wheat production and the impact on the health of UK consumers.

Consumer acceptability will also be explored including taste testing of high fibre white bread in a major supermarket within three years.

Rothamsted, together with the John Innes Centre, had previously identified wheat lines with up to double the normal content of fibre in white flour and are developing novel high fibre types of wheat for UK farmers in collaboration with commercial wheat breeders.

When the high fibre wheat lines were first announced in 2020, it was hoped they could be in the shops withing five years – and despite Covid-related delays, the team are still hopeful we could see this milestone achieved.

Professor Peter Shewry, who oversaw development of the high fibre wheat said: ”This is an important step in our long-term aim of improving the health of UK consumers by developing high quality staple foods at affordable prices”.

The white flour also has the potential to be used in other baked goods such as croissants, naan breads and pizzas, which will also be investigated as part of the project.

Although fibre-enhanced “white” breads are currently available in the UK, most are actually made from wholemeal flours of wheat varieties which cannot be grown here due to the climate. They therefore have higher cost and lower consumer acceptability than conventional white bread.

The project will use newly developed types of wheat with high fibre in white flour, which can be grown in the UK, to develop new products to increase UK fibre consumption.

This is important because 90% of the UK population do not consume enough fibre, with an average intake of 18g per day compared to a recommended intake of 30g per day.

The project has been developed in collaboration with a major supermarket chain, their associated millers and bakers and a range of industry partners involved in wheat production and will identify what changes to the UK wheat farm-to-plate supply chain is needed to deliver high fibre white loaf bread to consumers.

The project is one of 11 receiving a total of £14 million in funding from UKRI’s Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priority Fund programme.

Dr Marcus Tindall, Associate Professor of Mathematical Biology at the University of Reading and lead on the new project said:

“We are very grateful to UKRI for the award of this funding. It provides a real opportunity to increase the daily fibre intake of people across the UK, given the wide consumption of white bread.

“Our team are excited to be working closely with industry to develop the optimal high fibre white loaf, whilst utilising predictive mathematical modelling to inform the transformations needed within the UK wheat chain to deliver high fibre white bread to consumers."

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
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About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.