Bread Research, Bread Shortages, Uzbek Bread and Bread Bombs

There’s lots going on in our sector right now. Here’s some of it. If you’re in foodservice and would like to sample our awesome breads, we’ll send you a generous-sized box stuffed with free samples. Just ask. In the meantime, here’s the news.

Scientists kick off 20 year project to create personalised foods

Fresh nutrition research by British scientists from the Quadram Institute in Norwich is examining ways to modify starch to make it more easily digestible. They’re on a mission to create more nutritious white bread, and they reckon their findings could ultimately lead to ‘personalised food’ for people with unusual nutritional needs.

Wheat is an important source of starch and provides a fifth of all the calories consumed across the world. The wheat starch in white bread is digested fast, which causes a spike in sugar that some people find challenging. The team is looking at “ways where we can have starch in a diet but it can be more slowly digested”.

The researchers believe they can create healthier wheat starch through plant breeding instead of genetic engineering. But what will the new bread taste like, if it ever gets onto the shelves of our supermarkets and bakeries? You might find you feel full-up a bit faster. The flavour should be just as delicious as ever. And susceptible people wouldn’t get that glucose rush any more after eating it.

Personalised nutrition might one day involve different foods for older people, who need to digest food faster than young people, and different foods for athletes, who need rapid bursts of energy plus special nutrients to build muscle. There might even be foods designed specially for those who have chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.

The timescale? As the lead researcher says, “It’s not going to happen overnight but in 20 years time I expect there will be many more food products. The science is very difficult and long-term. It will work for some people and not for others.”

Zimbabwe’s bread crisis

The government in Zimbabwe is doing everything it can to stop a potential bread shortage, handing over wads of foreign currency to pay for imported wheat. It’s all down to a shortage of foreign currency, which has meant the reserve bank has struggled to pay for vital imported goods like medicines and electricity. Meanwhile the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe claim the country has only a week’s supply of wheat left.

Zimbabwe uses 450‚000 tonnes of wheat a year and delivered its best ever harvest last year. But supplies are still falling short. It’s a net importer of wheat in a system where millers have to pay middle men based in Dubai, who in turn buy wheat from the West. Mugabe’s fall led to millers going to Canada and Germany to source wheat, but delayed payment saw the distributor threaten to return it to the suppliers, UK-based Holbud Limited. Thankfully the debt is now paid and the wheat is on its way.

Beautiful Uzbek breads are a legend in their own lifetime

Some say the traditional breads of Uzbekistan are the eighth wonder of the world. That’s because they’re so much more than a simple loaf. Every one is decorated intricately, like a tapestry, to reflect the lives of the people who make them, including stunning designs representing the patterns woven into local caftans and complex Islamic geometric designs. Apparently there are more than a thousand designs and types of bread in Uzbekistan, a bread-loving nation if there ever was one.

Bread is sacred to Uzbeks, rich in rituals and rites. If you send a loved one on a long journey, for example, you’ll eat a slice of bread then store the remainder of the loaf ceremonially until they return. People quite literally break bread before a wedding as a sign of consolidation, and every serious oath is made with bread,  traditionally broken by hand rather than with a knife.

Bread or bomb?

When the suitably-named Bombetta London, in Wanstead, was opened as usual by the cleaner, everything seemed normal. Gina the cleaner brought the day’s bread delivery indoors, then started her work. But shortly afterwards she was startled to see six coppers race into the restaurant, having received reports of a bomb.

The ‘suspicious package’ turned out to be a loaf of bread labelled ‘Bomb’ by the supplier, who had simply shortened the restaurant’s name when he jotted down its destination on the outside of the paper bag. A member of the public saw the bag and called the police. Luckily, by all accounts the officers saw the funny side!