Global breakfast cereal brand
Weetabix wasn’t actually invented in Britain – Australia has that honour, where the owners of the original Weet-Bix still have sole rights to the cereal. But it is the British spin-off, with the softening vowel inserted, that has taken the world by storm.
The company has traded out of Northampton since it took over a disused flour mill in the 1930s. It was a one product company right up to the 1970s when a company executive returned from holiday in Switzerland with a brilliant new ‘invention’: Alpen.
Today, people from Finland to Arabia pour milk onto a product made in Britain, consisting almost entirely of a worldwide food staple that can be grown anywhere from within the Arctic Circle to North Africa. The product is 95% wheat, exported to 80 countries at a huge premium. That is world-class marketing.
Weetabix holds a Royal Warrant from both Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales but they don’t display the warrants on their packaging anymore. Maybe it would have played better with the Chinese had they done so. China’s Bright Foods, you see, acquired a controlling stake in the company in May 2012, but while sales rose in the PRC, it did not presage a fundamental shift from rice to wheat-based breakfasts (funny that).
So Weetabix has been sold again, this time to a US corporate, but for now, the cereal will continue to be produced in Blighty.
Watch this space.