What happens after harvest?
The harvesting of cereals in East Anglia is over for this year.
The question is, what happens to the wheat, spelt, rye, barley and oats grown in our region – commonly known as the ‘breadbasket of Britain’ - after they have left the farms?
When natural food ingredient manufacturer EDME recently opened its doors to the local community, people from Mistley had the opportunity to find out. They learned about the 140 year history of the company, and how it has always specialised in malted ingredients. They found out that malting is a 3-step process: steeping (soaking); germinating (sprouting); and drying (kilning). They experienced – through trying samples - that malted flours and flakes make for nutritious and delicious ingredients in bread and other baked goods.
Getting a look in
Visitors also had the rare chance of a mill and plant tour.
“It’s not easy to open a working factory to the public,” says Renata Faldo, a director at EDME, “but we absolutely love sharing the insights and experience with neighbours.
“The wider perspective is that last year, 81% of the economic output in Britain was contributed by the service industries, and only 9% by manufacturing *. Yet domestic manufacturing, especially food manufacturing, is vital for sustainability and for the health and wellbeing of the nation.
“EDME produces quality natural ingredients from wholegrains, pulses and seeds, supplying the vast majority to wholesalers, bakers and food manufacturers. That means people all over the country eat food made with our ingredients, benefitting from the fibre and nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which they deliver.”
A warm welcome
Members of the local community who came to the talk and tour were greeted with cookies that Wooster’s Bakery had made using EDME’s malted flour and flaked oats. Their goody bags at the ended included the famous Wooster’s malt loaves, also made using the company’s ingredients.
Chair of the Manningtree Museum and History Group, Bob Gooding said, “we never expected such a welcome, or to be able to sample delicious products. It was a real eye-opener to us all: they produce a much wider range of ingredients than we’d ever imagined!”
“EDME has come a long way since it first started in 1881,” Bob adds. “The company has solidified itself as a part of our heritage and is a great local employer.”
The opportunity to look behind the doors was also warmly welcomed by other members of the local community. Dierdre Conn said “we live in the Barley Stores across the road from EDME and I have always been curious about the workings of the factory. So, I am happy to be here today and look forward to the next year’s Mysteries of Mistley.”
Geoff Turner added “totally worthwhile experience and so good to see the company involving the local community!”
Visitors were invited to share their eating and shopping habits around bread. Results found that 40% eat bread once a day; over half of the attendees buy from the supermarket; and the most popular style of bread is wholegrain seeded loaf.
“Of course, our guests represent a tiny part of the population,” says Renata, “but national surveys show that one of the 2 top reasons for people choosing a particular type of bread is that it contains wholegrain (Mintel August 2022). We aim to add nutritional value to people’s diets – and bring flavour and joy to the table - so it was good to see that local people like the kind of bread that’s made with ingredients we supply!
“It would be great to get every schoolchild in the country through our doors, to help them understand and value farming and the production of nutritious ingredients. Sadly, we’re not set up for that. But, at least we can let the local community know what’s going on right on the doorstep, and offer our neighbours insights into the supply chain, food manufacturing, and tasty, nutritious foods.”
The company aims to hold tours every year.