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Bread by Numbers – Fascinating bread facts

Lovely baked breads

We’re always on the lookout for interesting bread facts, and a recent report in The Guardian provided plenty.

Britain’s bread habit

Did you know in Britain we consume almost two kilos of bread per person every week? The latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey, run by the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency, reveals how British men eat around 113g of bread a day, while women eat 76g. But it isn’t enough. The NHS says we should devote a third of our diet to starchy foods like bread, but the figure currently stands at just 20%.

Food waste bread scandal

Despite not eating enough of the stuff, we manage to throw scandalous amounts of it away. We chuck out 32% of the bread we buy, even though the majority of us check how much we have left before buying more. And it’s regional, with the south east of England being the worst for profligate bread-wasting and the north west coming a close second.

More expensive than ever…

At the same time, the price of bread has gone up by 34% over the past six years, with average food prices rising 33% in the same period. But bread in the UK still costs 15% less than it does in France.

The rise of British flour

The Bakers Federation says there are 32 flour mills in Britain. Between them they produce a whopping 5 million tonnes of flour every year, 60% of which is used for bread making. The rest of the wheat we use for bread comes from the US, Canada, France and Germany. Unlike many, we stick with 100% British flour, 100% of the time.

Added extras

Did you know how many additives ordinary sliced bread can contain? Here’s a short list of E-number possibilities courtesy of the Real Bread Campaign:

  • E481
  • E472e
  • E920
  • E282
  • E220
  • E300
  • E260
  • Soya flour

Like them, we believe real bread is “made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives.” Our bread is just that… bread, instantly frozen as soon as it cools from our ovens with no unnecessary, strange, weird or less-than-wonderful extras. As the campaign website says,

“Technically, the only ingredients essential for making bread are flour and water. With these two things you can make flatbreads and sourdoughs. That said, without a little pinch of salt bread can be a tad bland. For plain Real Bread that gives us at most: Flour, Water, Yeast and salt. Anything else is, by definition, unnecessary.”

Obviously we stuff our more exotic bread lines with yummy flavourings like top quality olives, sun dried tomato, plump dried fruits and so on. Other than that, our products are as pure as it gets.

Artisan breads carving a slice of the market

Most of us buy our bread from the supermarket or high street bakeries, with a massive 80% of it made in huge factories, ready sliced and wrapped. We think it’s a bit like eating damp cotton wool or soggy cardboard, but we’re biased! Supermarket and chain store bakeries account for most British bread sales and the remainder, just 7%, is baked by people like us. But things are changing fast as Brits become more discerning and demand better food. Watch this space for a continuing rise in the popularity of proper bread.