Oats are leaping out of the porridge bowl and fleeing the nosebag, thanks in part to a cereal producer who has the health of both the consumer and the countryside at heart.
Growing up living by a working water mill holds a distinct memory for Bill Jordan, who with his brother David runs Jordans, the family firm. 'All the electricity for our house was generated by the mill,’ he says. 'When the turbine stopped, the picture on our TV would shrink.’ The Jordans’ house cowers in the shadow of Holme Mills, set over the River Ivel near Biggleswade. It is the last working water mill in Bedfordshire (there were once 400), and the birthplace of Jordans Cereals, now a major brand.
In 2008 Bill and David Jordan sold a majority stake to the conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF) with the aim of putting it in a position to challenge the big players with a genuinely healthy cereal. 'Nestlé have got “wholegrains” in big green letters on their packs,’ Bill says. 'You’ve got Kelloggs saying they understand how to make a muesli and Weetabix owned by venture capitalists. If you want a brand that’s going to work internationally then you’ve got to have scale.’