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Olive oil crisis, coconut flour craziness and more – Bread news

Coconut flour health claims go over the top. Olive oil might end up as rare as hens’ teeth by next year. And a popular reality TV star throws her lot in with the Federation of Bakers and the Flour Advisory Bureau to change young women’s perception of bread. As usual it’s all go in our world. Here are three of our favourite stories.

‘Superfoods’ claims for coconut flour

Coconut meal was originally used by farmers as a powerful organic fertiliser and animal feed. More recently it’s been called a ‘superfood’, a highly suspect classification since many scientists feel there’s no such thing as a superfood – it’s more a marketing thing, more psuedo-science than a science thing. So what’s the story behind the craze?

Coconut flour is made by grating fresh coconut meat, which is then dried before the oil is extracted. The resulting fine powder looks and feels very like wheat and grain flours, and doesn’t taste or smell of coconut.

Billed as a ‘functional’ food by some, ie. a food with more health-giving properties than basic nutrition alone, it’s low in carbohydrates, high in fibre with lots of protein as well as being gluten-free. And there’s another problem. The entire gluten-free bandwagon has been labelled a scam by experts and widely slammed by the media. Unless you’re actually allergic to the stuff, gluten-free foods don’t come with any discernible health benefits over foods that include gluten.

Forget the hype. Fads come and go. Junk science waxes and wanes. Scoffing superfood like there’s no tomorrow isn’t going to make you immortal – it’s unlikely to have any extra health benefits at all. At the end of the day there’s no substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. Which includes plenty of fibre – which you can get in the form of lovely, fresh, 100% British artisan bread.

Olive oil shortage on the cards

As makers of artisan breads including exotic focaccia and ciabatta, we’re keeping an eye on the brewing olive oil crisis. The olive harvest in Italy and Spain have been severely affected by wet weather and crops have been decimated by olive flies and fungus.

The threat of soaring olive oil prices and shortages means some bakers might end up putting their prices up. And if the weird weather continues into 2016 we might even be looking at olive oil rationing.

So far the price of olive oil has rocketed more than 30% this season and next month is critical – Spain’s olive trees are blossoming right now, a stage that’s key in determining how big and healthy the eventual harvest will be.

Whatever happens there’s already a massive shortfall of 783,000 tonnes, as calculated by the International Olive Oil Council, and global production is already way below average compared to the last five years.

The weather isn’t the climate. They’re different animals. But there’s no doubt the climate is warming. Which makes 100% British bread like ours, with low food miles attached, ultimately benefits everyone.

To get around this potential key ingredient shortfall, here at Speciality Breads we are trialling a great British alternative, cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil. Although it doesn’t have the same Mediterranean pedigree, its claimed to be nutritionally superior and tastes great too. Watch this space!

TOWIE’s Georgia taken on to dispel bread myth

How do you reach millions of ordinary young British women with the message that bread is healthy? Apparently you grab the nearest reality show star and make them your mascot. Which is exactly what’s happened to TOWIE’s Georgia Kousoulou.

A recent YouGov survey showed 49% of dieting women aged 18-35 are cutting carbs to reduce their weight, and a third of them have stopped eating bread altogether during the last twelve months. It’s a disturbing trend when nutrition experts say bread plays a part in a healthy diet.

The Federation of Bakers and the Flour Advisory Bureau have collaborated for the campaign, named ‘we heart bread’ and designed to dispel the myths. And the popular TV doctor Dawn Harper is adding her voice, confirming that bread should be “a staple in any good balanced diet”.

All bread is low in fat and sugar, a good source of calcium, fibre and iron. Ours is also British through and through, increasingly popular with the foodservice sector as more end-consumers become aware of food miles and more of us decide to buy British. So good luck to Georgia, Dawn Harper and everyone else involved with the initiative. May sanity reign!