Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith has backed a campaign to champion British food brands – despite two foreign companies sponsoring the hit show in its new home on Channel 4.
It was announced last month that the new series of GBBO would be sponsored by American-owned Lyle’s Golden Syrup and German-owned Dr Oetker’s baking range in a £4 million deal.
Now an activist for British manufacturing has said the restaurateur and TV critic, 77, should be lobbying for GBBO to ditch its foreign sponsors and opt for UK companies instead, calling the choice of sponsors a ‘terrible shame’.
Prue Leith is a renowned food critic, broadcaster and caterer. She opened her famous Michelin-starred restaurant Leith’s in Notting Hill in 1969 before selling up in 1995
It was announced that Ms Leith would be replacing national treasure Mary Berry as a judge on the Great British Bake Off in March.
One month later, she joined the National Farmers’ Union’s ‘Back British Farming’ campaign, and urged shoppers to buy British produce.
However last month it was announced that the new series of Great British Bake Off would be sponsored by Lyle’s Golden Syrup – owned by ASR Group – and Dr Oetker in a £4 million deal.
It was the first time the show has ever been sponsored as it was formerly aired on the BBC, which does not run adverts on its channels nor accept sponsorship deals because it is funded by the taxpayer through the licence fee.
Prue Leith (right) has replaced Mary Berry as judge on the Great British Bake Off alongside returning judge Paul Hollywood (left). They will join presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig (centre)
Though Lyle’s Golden Syrup was formerly a British brand owned by British company Tate & Lyle, Tate & Lyle was bought out by the US-based ASR Group in 2010.
Kate Hills, the founder of UK manufacturing directory Make It British, called for Ms Leith to lobby the producers of the show to change its sponsors for next series so that British food brands can be promoted.
‘I think it’s a terrible shame,’ she said. ‘Maybe [Prue Leith] didn’t know when she signed up, but maybe she should have put it into her contract.
‘It is a shame because the show has the title “the Great British Bake Off” and there are so many fantastic food sponsors here.’
Ms Hills added: ‘Maybe she can campaign for the producers to change the sponsors for next series.
‘I’m happy to push lots of great British food producers her way – though I’m sure she knows plenty herself.’
Prue Leith has a world-renowned cookery school called Leith’s School of Food and Wine, and was a judge on the Great British Menu for 11 series
Prue has been a long-time supporter of the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign.
She urged shoppers in April: ‘UK butter, flour and eggs are all easily available and choosing them really helps our fantastic farmers.
‘So let’s make the effort to buy British.’
Prue Leith has been contacted by FEMAIL for comment. The NFU declined to comment.
However, fresh produce champion Nigel Jenney said it was unrealistic to expect the Bake Off to only champion British food.
Mr Jenney, who is chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, said: ‘[Prue Leith’s] point of view is great because she is encouraging the consumption of British fresh produce, which is wonderful.
‘There needs to be a sense of realism however as two thirds of fresh produce is not grown in the UK and comes from Europe and the rest of the world.
‘The [Great British Bake Off] would be undermined if it was not allowed to use fantastic ingredients from around the world.’