Artisan bakery and its impact at Matthews Mill

Bertie Matthews in the wheat fields above his family mill in Shipton under Wychwood, Oxfordshire

Bertie Matthews in the wheat fields above his family mill in Shipton under Wychwood.

Bertie Matthews in the wheat fields above his family mill in Shipton under Wychwood.

Matthews Cotswold Flour, based in Shipton under Wychwood,has launched two new flour products, reflecting a growing trend for artisan baking.

Matthews Mill has been in existence near the railway line just outside Shipton since 1912 and is an iconic site in the Evenlode Valley. Flour is no longer transported by rail but traditional milling equipment including stone mills are still used to produce the stoneground flour. Bertie Matthews is the sixth generation of his family to run the business, joining the family mill a little over a year ago. He has brought a renewed energy and passion to the business at just the right time.

“The trend for healthier bread, combining a better understanding of the qualities of different grains and a passion for artisan baking, has changed the market for small independent millers,” Bertie Matthews, the commercial director has stated. “It is an incredibly competitive market but the trend for healthier, artisan baking is good news for independent, family millers such as ourselves who have traditional mills. People are discovering that there is a huge difference between a hand-crafted loaf and one made using the Chorleywood process. Programmes such as The Great British Bake Off excite people to bake at home which is brilliant. But the quality of ingredients used is rarely discussed on the show. The quality of flour makes a huge difference to the bake. People in the trade have always known this and our new flour, Canadian Great White, is perfect for them. Our new Stoneground Wholemeal is a great example of what a premium flour offers for home bakers who want a healthier loaf. This past summer has been good for our local Cotswold farmers as the dry weather produced a high level of protein in wheat grain. Our new wholemeal is stoneground, rather than rolled, which gives a distinctive crumb and crust.”

Matthews best-selling flours are Cotswold Crunch and Eight Grain and these will continue but as Bertie explains, the business has to reach out to more people if the mill in Oxfordshire is to keep working into the future.

Matthews, like all good businesses, is looking forward from its home in the Evenlode valley.

February – March 2019