Treasury Minister Eddie Teare told MHKs he is very concerned at the reduction in output from Laxey Glen Mills - and feared it could reach a ‘tipping point’.
In the House of Keys, Mr Teare was quizzed by Michael MHK Alfred Cannan over what action the government was taking to support flour production.
The Minister replied: ‘I’m very concerned about the reduction in output from Laxey Glen Mills over the last decade and consequently the reduction in the purchase of wheat.’
Mr Teare said the production of flour had gone down by about 20 per cent and the wheat purchased by the Mills had shrunk by an even bigger factor.
He said he would meet with colleagues from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture next week to discuss the matter and see what can be done to deal with the ‘wave of imports that are causing problems in the local market’.
And he warned: ‘If we are not careful we are going to reach a tipping point where it will no longer be economically viable to maintain the mill.’
The government is the sole shareholder in Laxey Glen Mills and also pays an annual grant of £36,000.
Peter Karran (Lib Van, Onchan) said the mill needed to diversify and suggested a distillery would provide a new customer.
Mr Teare replied: ‘We have to accept in some areas there will be a virtual reliance on one of two customers. But we are trying to encourage supermarkets to actually buy local. We have to recognise if the boat doesn’t sail the product will not appear on the shelves.’
Mr Cannan suggested that if an extra 15,000 loaves were locally baked and sold a week this would go a long way to maintaining the mills’ financial stability and increase wheat production by about 30 per cent. He called on Mr Teare to review the government’s central purchasing policy.
But the Minister said that policy was having only a small effect on local baked produce and the supermarkets were the real targets.